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Pelosi: Cash for Clunkers Strengthens Auto Industry, Strengthens Economy and Helps Preserve Our Environment

Washington, D.C. - Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke on the House floor this afternoon in support of legislation providing $2 billion in additional funding for the so-called “Cash for Clunker” initiative, which was so successful this week that it was running out of money. The bipartisan legislation passed in the House by a vote of 316 to 109.

“As you know, my colleagues, as part of the Supplemental Appropriations bill earlier this year, the “Cash for Clunkers” provision was provided in it. Many people have worked very, very hard on that for a long time, and we were able to have it passed on a bill that was going to be signed by the President.

“I want to acknowledge Congresswoman Betty Sutton for her enthusiastic support and leadership, Congressman Jay Inslee, Congressman Steve Israel of New York -- who all worked very hard on this. Certainly, the Chairman Emeritus of the Energy and Commerce Committee, Mr. Dingell, the Chairman Mr. Waxman, Mr. Markey as Chair of the Select Committee on Global Warming and for his leadership on this issue for a long period of time.

“I mention all of them because this brings together so many elements of what we want to do to grow our economy, to help our workers, to protect our environment, and to do so in a very focused way that works.

“And that's what is interesting about this week. In about six days, it is estimated that 250,000 cars were sold. On both sides of the aisle, people acknowledged the effectiveness of this initiative. And that is why yesterday, as we were seeing what was happening this week, the Obama Administration asked us to help consumers who have yet to have the opportunity to take advantage of trading in their old cars for new energy efficient models.

“When they do that, they strengthen the auto industry, strengthen our economy at large, and help preserve our environment.

“What's interesting about it and the point that is made by many speakers already is just that -- that everything has performed beyond the requirements of the bill. The cars that have been purchased are much more fuel efficient and the emissions standards are much better than the bill even required, and that is good news.

“I do share the concern that is put forth by Mr. Markey, and I don't know if Mr. Inslee has yet, but he will -- about the source of the revenue. And that is the Innovative Technologies Loan Guarantee program.  In the recovery package in January, we voted for $6 billion initiative, it was very important to have it at that level. And it is very important in terms of our renewables program -- $6 billion.

“The Administration has just released a solicitation for about half of that money -- $3 billion in loans for renewable energy. The rest of the money would not be released until next year, till after January. So that gave us an opportunity for the time being to use $2 billion of that for this ‘Cash for Clunkers' expansion. And I am concerned about the fact that that money is taken from that account, but it has not made any opportunity costs for the program because the timing is that that money would be spent next year.

“I do hope that whether it is in the continuing resolution, or some other step along the way, that those funds will be restored.  Because it is not appropriate for us to take money to do one thing for fuel efficiency out of an account that is designed to do just that, looking into the future with further innovation. So I share the concerns expressed by Mr. Markey and appreciate the comments made by Mr. Obey in the colloquy that they had about restoring those funds.

“But again, this is a pretty exciting day. As I said, we just got the word as this news was unfolding this week. Yesterday, it was determined that we could go forward. The Rules Committee under Congresswoman Slaughter responded very positively, the Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, Mr. Obey, just trying to find solutions for us, and the leadership of the Republican Party was very cooperative in how we could bring the bill to the floor.

“So this is a very positive, bipartisan initiative to help our auto industry, to help consumers, to grow our economy, to do it in an environmentally sound way, and I think is the perfect message for us to take home for August.

“Thank you all for your leadership in making this possible.”