WASHINGTON -- A bill to provide the depleted cash-for-clunkers program with another $2 billion was introduced on the House floor today by House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey, D-Wis., a spokesman for the congressman said.
The funding would come from a $6 billion Energy Department program that was provided under the stimulus package enacted in February, Obey spokesman Ellis Brachman said in an interview today.
The money would be taken from the departments renewable energy and electric power transmission loan guarantee program, said Energy Department spokeswoman Ebony Meeks.
The $2 billion would be funneled into the current $1 billion cash-for-clunkers program that is due to expire Nov. 1, a congressional aide said.
Lawmakers are trying to act before the House breaks for a five-week recess today. The Senate adjourns Aug. 7.
A senior Michigan lawmaker this morning endorsed Obey's bill.
"This is a simple extension and infusion of money, and the legislation should not get bogged down by calls for changing the program," Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., said in a statement. "That would only serve to stall the extension and confuse consumers."
House Republicans said they would not attempt to block the bill, a House Republican leadership aide said today.
A vote could come as early as Friday in the House and the $2 billion could still change to a different dollar amount, according to one House Democratic aide.
Meeks confirmed that none of this stimulus money had been spent yet, and that the agency issued a solicitation for applications earlier this week. She declined immediate comment on the Obey bill.
White House spokeswoman Amy Brundage did not immediately respond to a request for comment
The decision to try to fund cash for clunkers from the Energy program was reached at a meeting today of the Michigan congressional delegation that also was attended by two Obama administration officials.
They were Brian Deese of the U.S. auto task force and Rob Nabors, deputy director of the White Houses Office of Management and Budget, a congressional aide who attended the meeting said.
A National Automobile Dealers Association survey of 2,000 dealers found evidence of a backlog of nearly 200,000 pending claims that, if filed, would probably deplete the program's $1 billion budget, an NADA spokesman said Thursday.
The program, which began processing dealer claims for reimbursement of $3,500 to $4,500 consumer credits on July 24, was supposed to continue through Nov. 1.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs is expected to make public comments about the bill later today, the aide said.
Reuters contributed to this report