Auto lobbies seek cash for clunkers

Automakers and the United Auto Workers (UAW) union urged lawmakers this week to oppose efforts to remove money for a “cash for clunkers” program from the war supplemental bill.

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The program would give consumers a voucher if they traded in their old, gas-guzzling beaters for new, more efficient models. The idea is to support the struggling auto industry by promoting the sale of more autos, although some environmental groups say the program should require greater fuel savings.

“The fleet modernization legislation represents the single most important step Congress can take right now to assist the auto industry, including struggling dealers, suppliers, manufacturers and their workers and retirees,” said Alan Reuther, UAW legislative director, in a letter to lawmakers sent Monday.

Pete Lawson, vice president for government affairs at Ford Motor Co., said the industry continues to need help to recover. “Recent sales figures show this timely, temporary and targeted program is urgently needed,” he said.

The supplemental spending bill includes $1 billion for the car programs.