Obama to press senators on clunkers

President Barack Obama will spend part of his birthday pressing 57 Democratic senators to extend the cash-for-clunkers program, which will run out of money over the weekend.

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White House press secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters Tuesday morning — the day of Obama's 48th birthday — that while healthcare reform and the economy will be at the "forefront" of Tuesday's lunch at the White House, Obama will press the Senate Democrats on "his support and his desire to see" the program extended.

"It has proved to be an enormously successful and popular program," Gibbs said.

Despite increased auto sales with increased fuel efficiency, there is growing bipartisan opposition to the House-approved $2 billion extension of the program. On Monday, Gibbs said that without the extension, the government can only guarantee the program through the end of the week.

The Senate is scheduled to begin August recess on Friday. If it does not pass the House version of the bill before then, a vote will likely not take place until September.

Gibbs said the president will press the 57 senators attending Tuesday's lunch — Sens. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) are ill and Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) has a broken ankle — to use already approved money for the Department of Energy to further fund the program.

"It makes a big difference for our energy security and for our economy," Gibbs said.