A bill to offer cash vouchers of up to $4,500 to people who swap cars and trucks for new, more fuel-efficient vehicles may be considered on the House floor as early as mid-June, a spokeswoman for Rep. Betty Sutton, D-Ohio, said today.
The measure passed the House Energy and Commerce Committee Thursday as part of a climate-change bill that also provides for the development of plug-in electric drive vehicles.
Sutton also broke out the cash-for-guzzlers provision and introduced it as a stand-alone bill Thursday in the hope of getting it passed more quickly by Congress, said Suttons chief of staff, Nichole Francis Reynolds.
Consumers all across the country are eagerly anticipating the passage of this bill, Sutton said in a statement.
The legislation seeks to boost vehicle purchases while making the U.S. fleet more fuel efficient. It has the support of the Detroit 3 and has been endorsed in concept by President Barack Obama.
The 900-page bill on greenhouse gas emissions faces more difficult prospects in the Senate, where it stalled last year, than in the House. It was sponsored by Reps. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., and Ed Markey, D-Mass.
Senators also will consider a stand-alone cash-for-guzzlers bill, which was introduced Thursday by Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and other members.
It is virtually identical to the Sutton measure.
The Sutton legislation would offer customers $3,500 vouchers if they trade in cars that get less than 18 mpg for new vehicles that get at least 22 mpg. Vouchers of $4,500 would be awarded if the new cars get at least 10 mpg more than the old.
The vouchers would be awarded to up to 1 million customers at a cost to the government of $3.5 billion to $4.5 billion. The new cars to be purchased could be assembled anywhere in the world.
It may result in an increase in new-car sales, and that could do nothing but help an industry in need of some upward impetus, said Jack Nerad, executive market analyst for Kelley Blue Book, a car-information provider. U.S. auto sales have plunged 37.4 percent this year through April and are forecast to remain at near 30-year lows for the next several months at least.
About 13 percent of new-car shoppers would be highly motivated to buy a new vehicle sooner due to the legislation, according to a Kelley Blue Book survey of 725 shoppers earlier this month.
The climate-change bill seeks to cut emissions from power plants, oil refineries and factories about 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020.
It provides for a cap-and-trade system in which limits on emissions are set and companies can trade pollution permits among themselves.
A 15-page section of the bill provides for the development of plug-in electric drive vehicles.
The Secretary of Energy would be required to provide aid to automakers to retool domestic facilities to make these vehicles and to buy vehicle batteries for use in manufacture of the cars.
Electric utilities also would be encouraged to provide electrical charging stations on streets, in parking lots and garages, and in homes.