The U.S. Transportation Department has approved all “eligible and complete” cash-for-clunkers claims from dealers, leaving only 2 percent of all applications for dealers to revise and resubmit, Secretary Ray LaHood said today.
Department employees will work with dealers to help them correct and re-file improperly submitted applications, he said.
“The agency has crossed the finish line for paying back eligible and complete dealer submissions,” a Transportation statement on its Web site said.
A total of 664,818 claims for $2.8 billion, or 98 percent of all applications, have been paid or approved for payment as of this morning, another agency announcement said today.
Of these, 649,984 claims for $2.7 billion have been paid.
That leaves 14,834 submissions for $61.6 million that have been approved but not yet paid.
The National Automobile Dealers Associated released a statement praising the government for its efforts.
"NHTSA was handed a nearly impossible task by Congress. We don't think any government agency worked harder than NHTSA this summer, and in the end, dealers and consumers benefited," said Michael Harrington of NADA.
LaHood has said the department will reimburse all eligible claims by Sept. 30.
Approval is the next-to-last step before payment is wired by the Treasury Department to a dealer's bank.
Between July 27 and Aug. 25, dealers submitted a total of 681,426 applications for $2.9 billion in rebates.
Another group of dealer claims might be spawned by a Transportation Department rule adopted this week.
The rule would allow new applications from dealers who were blocked from filing by federal computer problems.
Transportation and National Automobile Dealers Association spokesmen did not respond to requests for estimates of how many dealer claims might have been blocked by balky federal computers.
Clunkers claims have thus far remained below the program's $3 billion budget.
LaHood has declined to estimate the agency's administrative expenses, which include computer upgrades and staff hiring to accommodate unexpected volume.