WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said today that "cash for clunkers" legislation should not have been added in the dark of night to an emergency funding bill intended to support the mission of our troops overseas. Corker voted against a motion permitting the inclusion of the $1 billion "cash for clunkers" language in the war supplemental conference report, H.R. 2346.
The cash for clunkers provision, a measure providing taxpayer-funded subsidies for consumers to trade in their low gas mileage vehicles and purchase new more fuel efficient ones, was added to the supplemental bill in conference committee and was not part of the supplemental language agreed to by the House and Senate. The motion passed the Senate by a vote of 60-36, leaving the cash for clunkers provision in the bill.
"My staff and I have spent hours on the phone and in meetings with Tennessee auto dealers trying to do all we can to ensure they are treated fairly in the midst of the Chrysler and GM bankruptcies. I was proud to introduce legislation to pressure Chrysler and GM to increase the amount of wind down time they give their rejected dealerships and to fully reimburse them for their inventories of vehicles and parts," said Corker.
"While I would have considered supporting cash for clunkers as a standalone bill that was paid for and included appropriate mileage standards, I could not support a dark of night maneuver to add a billion dollars of unpaid-for, unrelated spending to an emergency supplemental bill intended to fund the mission of our troops overseas. Americans of both political parties have revolted against this tactic of adding unrelated legislation to a must-pass bill without the express approval of the House and Senate."
Corker aides met with nearly 100 auto dealers in five roundtables across the state (Kingsport, Knoxville, Chattanooga, Nashville, and Memphis) during the Senate's May recess.
On June 4, Corker introduced an amendment to the tobacco bill requiring Chrysler and General Motors to (1) use a portion of the tax dollars they receive during Chapter 11 bankruptcy to fully reimburse their rejected dealerships for the inventories of vehicles and parts and (2) give affected dealerships a minimum of 180 days to wind down their operations. On June 11, Corker and Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., introduced very similar language as a stand-alone bill.
On June 5, Corker welcomed news that General Motors has reached a proposed agreement to sell its Saturn brand to Penske Automotive Group which, according to GM, could save 350 dealerships and 13,000 jobs at Saturn and its retailers nationwide. In late May, Corker joined U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., in a letter to GM urging the company to consider any fair offers for Saturn.