Braley's "Cash for Clunkers" bill clears House

A bill to encourage consumers to purchase new and more fuel-efficient vehicles, co-sponsored by Congressman Bruce Braley (IA-01), passed the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday by a wide margin of 298 to 119, with two members voting “present.”

The roll call shows 59 yes votes from Republicans, including Iowa’s Tom Latham (IA-04) and Steve King (IA-05). Leonard Boswell (IA-03) also voted for the bill. Braley and Dave Loebsack (IA-02) were not present for the roll call, but it’s safe to assume that Loebsack would have voted for it, since only a handful of the most conservative House Democrats voted no.

Braley said in a statement,

“The passage of Cash for Clunkers legislation will help boost our economy, save families money, and reduce our dependence on foreign oil,” Braley said.  “Cash for Clunkers is a common-sense idea that can have a big impact on the economy, reducing emissions and saving American jobs by jumpstarting the auto industry.  I hope the passage of this bill today is a sign that this program will start benefiting families and American workers as soon as possible.”

In my opinion, this bill has much more potential to spur new car purchases and save jobs than it does to reduce emissions or our dependence on foreign oil. The increased fuel-efficiency requirements are quite modest (presumably because American car manufacturers have done a poor job of increasing fuel efficiency).

The original draft of the bill set more ambitious mileage requirements, but that changed during negotiations over the Waxman-Markey climate-change bill, to which this measure was attached:

The compromise also waters down the so-called cash-for-clunkers program*, which ostensibly encourages drivers to turn in their gas guzzlers in exchange for a federal subsidy on more fuel efficient models. Yet under the compromise proposal, the new fuel efficiencies are hardly dramatic. For example, drivers trading in trucks between 6,000 and 8,500 pounds would be eligible for a $3,500 voucher for purchasing the same-sized vehicle that’s more efficient by just 1 mile per gallon.

Daniel Becker, director of the Safe Climate Campaign, said the program does much more to help struggling automakers sell large, unpopular models than it does to reduce greenhouse emissions.

“It’s a $4 billion giveaway to move gas guzzling vehicles that nobody wants off the lots,” Becker said.

After the jump I’ve posted the press release from Braley’s office and the information from an accompanying fact sheet on how this bill would work.

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