Region sees party-line House split over extra $2 billion for Cash for Clunkers
This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 31, 2009 - With two exceptions, Missouri's congressional delegation split along party lines when it came to a last-minute effort Friday to add $2 billion to the federal Cash for Clunkers program.
The program allows people to get incentives of up to $4,500 if they trade in a car with low gas mileage to purchase a new one that gets more miles to the gallon.
Initially, the Congress had earmarked $1 billion for the program from now to Nov. 1. But consumers flocked to auto showrooms, snagging all the incentives in less than a week,prompting a temporary suspension as of Thursday, federal officials say.
On Friday, Missouri's nine-member delegation (five Republicans, four Democrats) split 6-3 in favor of the extra $2 billion. All the Democrats voted for the extra money -- including Russ Carnahan and Lacy Clay, D-St. Louis -- along with two Republicans: JoAnn Emerson of Cape Girardeau and Roy Blunt of Strafford.
(Also voting for the added money was Rep. John Shimkus, R-Collinsville.)
The region's two Missouri Republicans -- Todd Akin of Town and Country and Blaine Luetkemeyer of St. Elizabeth -- joined Sam Graves of Tarkio in opposing the extra money for the program.
The overall House tally was: 316 voted yea, 109 voted nay, 2 present, 6 missed the vote
UPDATE: Carnahan -- one of the original sponsors of the Clunkers program -- plans to promote it at a 10 a.m. news conference Tuesday at McMahon Ford, 4100 Gravois Avenue.
He says that "almost 200,000 cars have already been bought through the program, and it is expected to spur the sale of up to 800,000 more fuel-efficient cars and trucks, while stimulating the ailing auto industry and reducing our dependence on foreign oil."
“This is a smart program that will help grow our clean-energy economy, cut down on pollution and save money at the pump as we reduce consumption by over 250 million gallons of gas,” Carnahan said in a statement today. “It goes a long way towards getting Americans back to work and behind the wheel of a cleaner, more environmentally-friendly car.”
A Carnahan spokesman said that, if approved by the Senate, the extra $2 billion would come from federal stimulus money already approved by Congress.