Murkowski Calls on Obama Administration to Use Unspent Stimulus Money to Continue 'Cash for Clunkers' Program

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today called on the Secretaries of the Treasury and Transportation to consider using economic stimulus package money to continue the Cash for Clunkers program, which has run out of money after only one week.
In a letter to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Murkowski noted that last week’s rollout of the program was delayed in Alaska, thanks to a computer glitch on a federal website that temporarily prohibited the ability of auto dealers – and therefore consumers – to participate.
The Transportation Department corrected the problem affecting Alaska after Murkowski’s office brought it to the department’s attention.
“There is clearly interest on the part of the American public in seeing the CARS (Car Allowance Rebate System) program continue, which would provide an important boost to the badly battered auto industry,” Murkowski wrote.
The Obama administration said Thursday that the $1 billion Cash for Clunkers program ran out of money yesterday after only one week following an unexpected flood of business exhausted the funds.
Under the Cash for Clunkers program, eligible owners of gas guzzling automobiles  will receive a credit, up to $4,500, if they turn them in and buy or lease a new, more fuel-efficient vehicle. Congress created the program in an effort to spur new car sales in the battered auto industry.
Murkowski said a recent federal report showed that of the $502 billion appropriated through the economic stimulus bill, substantial sums remain unspent.
“Clearly there are a multitude of programs and funding available through the stimulus act that could potentially be used to continue the CARS program, and the CARS program seems like a very legitimate candidate to access this funding,” Murkowski wrote.
The U.S. House of Representatives today approved a $2 billion extension of the Cash for Clunkers program. The House legislation would authorize the program through September 30, 2010, and the money would come from an Energy Department loan guarantee program that is part of the economic stimulus package enacted in February.