Congress OKs $2B refill of 'cash for clunkers'

(AP) - Pedal to the metal, Congress sent PresidentBarack Obama legislation Thursday night with an additional $2billion for "cash for clunkers," the economy-boosting rebateprogram that caught the fancy of car buyers and instantly increasedsales for an auto industry long mired in recession. The Senate approved the money on a 60-37 vote afteradministration officials said an initial $1 billion had run out inonly 10 days. The House voted last week to keep alive the program,which gives consumers up to $4,500 in federal subsidies if theytrade in their cars for new, more energy-efficient models. Without action, lawmakers risked a wave of voter discontent asthey left the Capitol for a monthlong vacation. "Cash for clunkers has been a proven success," Obama said in awritten statement issued shortly after the vote. "The initialtransactions are generating a more than 50 percent increase in fueleconomy; they are generating $700 to $1000 in annual savings forconsumers in reduced gas costs alone, and they are getting theoldest, dirtiest and most air polluting trucks and SUVs off theroad for good." Senate supporters of the program hailed its effect on the autoindustry - which had its best month in nearly a year in July - aswell as its claimed environmental benefits.

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