Cash for Clunkers could end Friday pending a Senate vote

Senate skeptics appear to be in no hurry.

On Monday, the Obama administration pointed to environmental gains made during the first week of the program, which gives rebates of as much as $4,500 to motorists who trade in gas guzzlers for more fuel-efficient vehicles. The White House also highlighted recovery news from Ford Motor Co., which reported its first U.S. sales increase in nearly two years.

“It’s good for consumers. It’s good for dealers and auto manufacturers,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said. “It’s good for our energy security and our environment.”

Gibbs said if the Senate failed to provide the extra money, “it’s unlikely that we’ll make it to the weekend with a program that can continue.” He estimated the additional $2 billion would allow consumers to take advantage of the incentives through September.

In the Senate, Democrats remained concerned about lining up enough support for the plan, which the House approved last week before heading home for the August recess. “I’d like to see the program extended,” said Dick Durbin of Illinois, the Senate’s second-ranking Democrat. “I hope we can get it done.”