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Cash for Clunkers

The Senate’s ‘Clunkers’ Vote: Who Crossed Party Lines? (UPDATED)

11:12 AM EDT on August 7, 2009

The "cash for clunkers" car trade-in rebates are alive and well today after an evening Senate vote to give the taxpayer-subsidized program $2 billion -- money that was supposed to go to clean-energy loans and will almost certainly be replaced by new spending.

060713_POL_markWarnerEX.jpgSen. Mark Warner (VA) was one of four Democrats to oppose an extension of "clunkers." (Photo: Slate)

The final vote was 60-37, with a handful of Democrats and Republicans switching sides to vote against their party leaders.

The GOP "clunker" backers were Sens. Bob Corker (TN), Olympia Snowe (ME), George Voinovich (OH), Kit Bond (MO), Susan Collins (ME), Lamar Alexander (TN), and Sam Brownback (KS) -- who yanked his support from the rebates' first iteration in June.

Democrats who opposed the "clunker" money were Sens. Claire McCaskill (MO), Patrick Leahy (VT), Mark Warner (VA), and Ben Nelson (NE).

Warner and Leahy were both openly skeptical of the program's merits. Warner told a local TV reporter in his state that he questioned the environmental value of the "clunkers" tax credit, adding that they should not become a "long-term ... stipend" for car buyers.

Leahy, in a statement explaining his vote, referenced the Obama administration's reluctance to release complete information about the individual sales being conducted under the "clunkers" banner:

[W]hile we know that cars are moving off sales lots and onto the road, we have yet to receive enough details about the current sales data to know the true story of whether this program is working as intended.

Late Update: McCaskill also sounded off on her reasons for opposing more clunkers money. "Remember, around 60,000 to 70,000 people are trading their cars in for new ones every month without this program," she wrote on her Tumblr blog.

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