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  Taking The Hill

Posted 9/10/2009
By Clarence Mills

Senate Approves Additional Funding for Cash for Clunkers

In a vote of 60-37, the U.S. Senate has approved $2 billion in additional funding for the Cash for Clunkers program previously authorized by Congress. The additional funding is expected to sustain the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS) through Labor Day weekend of 2009 but not much longer.

The CARS program used up the initial $1 billion implemented by NHTSA in the first official week of operations.

Long-Term Solution to Cash for Clunkers Introduced in Senate

U.S. Sens. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., and Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, introduced the "Efficient Vehicle Leadership Act" as Senate Bill 1620. S.B. 1620 will amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide tax incentives and fees for increasing motor vehicle fuel economy. The bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Finance.

Bingaman introduced this bill as a long-term encouragement for Americans to purchase fuel-efficient vehicles, knowing that Cash for Clunkers will soon run out. S.B. 1620 creates a program that rewards consumers who buy cars and trucks that get better gas mileage than the average overall fuel economy required for its class.

There will also be fees for consumers of non-fuel-efficient vehicles. The rebates and fees will be calculated by multiplying the difference between the vehicles' fuel economy and the applicable CAFÉ standard by a prescribed amount.

Democratic Leaders Seek Bipartisan Compromise on Health Reform

As the health care reform debate heats up, the U.S. Congress goes on recess. However, talks of negotiating a bipartisan agreement will continue in September, after the break, among members of the Senate Finance Committee.

Thus far, health-care reform has been extremely controversial between the Democrats and the Republicans. The House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce and the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions have, for the most part, introduced companion bills.

Both proposals have called for a government-run insurance program, individual and employer mandates, revenue raisers, insurance reforms that ban rejection, Medicaid expansion, and subsidies to buy insurance.

Though still in negotiation, the Senate Committee on Finance's bill, led by U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., seeks to unite Democrats and Republicans when the health care debate moves to the Senate floor.

Hawaii's House Proposes Vehicle Efficiency and Tire Pressure Gauges Bill

Hawaii state representative Mina Morita, a Democrat, has sponsored House Bill 1467, the Vehicle Efficiency and Tire Pressure Gauges Act. H.B. 1467 requires retail service stations to provide free tire pressure gauges and operational tire inflation devices to enable motorists to maintain properly inflated tires so as to increase the overall operating efficiency of existing vehicles.

While many retail service stations in the state of Hawaii provide tire inflation pumps or devices as a courtesy to customers, some do not. The purpose of this bill is to spur an increase in fuel efficiency for Hawaii's motor vehicles.

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