WASHINGTON — The Obama administration will suspend the "cash for clunkers" program unless the Senate provides $2 billion more for the popular Car Allowance Rebate System program, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said Sunday.
He said he expected the current $1 billion pool to be exhausted before today. The House approved an additional $2 billion Friday and the administration is pressing the Senate to follow before its summer vacation begins at week's end.
"If we don't get the $2 billion from the Senate . . . we would have to suspend the program next week," LaHood said in an interview with C-SPAN's Newsmakers show. He said the administration "will continue the program until we see what the Senate does and I believe the Senate will pass this."
The program lets owners of gas-guzzlers receive rebates of $3,500 or $4,500 toward the purchase of a new, fuel-efficient car. LaHood said 62 percent of the traded-in vehicles were trucks and "these people are buying cars that get much better gas mileage."
The program helped lift Ford Motor Co. to its first monthly sales increase in two years, said George Pipas, the company's top sales analyst, on Sunday.
July sales results mark the first year-over-year gain for Ford since November 2007 and are apparently the first uptick by any of the six biggest carmakers since last August, Pipas said. He declined to disclose a specific total. Sales results reports are due today.