WASHINGTON -- Senate Republicans want to tighten oversight of dealer payments under the cash-for-clunkers program and have requested data on how fast dealers are being reimbursed.
Eight Republicans on the Senate Commerce Committee requested weekly data on the rebates paid to dealers, the average reimbursement time once an application is submitted and the number of rejected claims.
The Republicans, led by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, requested the data to enable us to effectively carry out our oversight responsibilities, the Republicans said yesterday in a letter to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
LaHoods spokeswomen did not respond immediately to a request for comment.
There has not been extraordinary delays on the U.S. governments part, President Barack Obama said in a radio interview last week. Dealers will get their money, but weve got to process it properly.
The Transportation Department issued pay data for the first time last week, saying it has approved $140 million in payments to dealers. At the time, that amounted to 7.3 percent of the total rebate applications submitted in the $3 billion program.
The department has more than tripled, to about 1,200, the number of public and private employees processing dealer applications.
The senators said the Transportation Department is likely to continue to be late in reimbursing dealers even after tonights claims-filing deadline passes.
The governments delays in issuing rebates to dealers for their $3,500 or $4,500 customer payments have imposed a burden on small dealers in particular, the letter said.
We would appreciate being kept informed of any actions you take to improve the reimbursement process, including your plans to resolve all outstanding reimbursement requests, it said.
The legislation signed by Obama in June required the government to reimburse dealers within 10 days of their filing their rebate applications.
Many dealers have complained that they have not been reimbursed for payments made as early as the first week of the program, which officially started July 24.
Dealers have until 8 p.m. EDT tonight to submit rebate applications following computer outages that have forced two extensions of the original filing deadline.