When Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV, tries to take up the House-passed "Cash for Clunkers" bill next week, he will hit a series of bipartisan road blocks.
Fox has learned that Sen. John McCain, R-AZ, will oppose any move to take up the House bill. Around here, we call that a filibuster.
McCain told Fox earlier today, "I not only wouldn't vote for the extra two billion, I was opposed to the initial billion. "
McCain, the 2008 GOP presidential nominee who ran as a deficit hawk, said, "Within a few weeks we will see that this process was abused by speculators and people who took advantage of what is basically a huge government subsidy of corporations that they already own. "I can't imagine that any taxpayer of America would have thought that the TARP, the financial recovery money, would be used now to subsidize the sale of automobiles in America."
This move by McCain has the potential to tie the Senate into procedural knots, just as Reid is planning to take up the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to be the next justice on the Supreme Court. This debate, alone, is expected to consumer three days, as the Senate heads into the monthlong August recess after next Friday.
Fox had thought earlier today that Sen. Jim DeMint, R-SC, would block the clunkers bill, for sure, but a spokesman says DeMint is looking at options and will fight it if there's a shot at stopping it.
But it won't be that easy for Reid. Not only will he have to contend with McCain now, but he will also have to quell the concerns of some members of his own party.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-CA, back in January, introduced her own "Cash for Clunkers" bill, an alternative that required more fuel efficient trade-in's than would later be approved by Congress -- and was extended today by the House.
Feinstein was joined by Sens. Susan Collins, R-ME, and Chuck Schumer, D-NY.
After the President pushed for a clunkers bill earlier this year, though, House Democrats hastily crafted a bill that was much friendlier to the beleagured American auto industry, particularly those who sell trucks. And after today's vote in the House, the plan gets $2 billion more to continue.
Together with Collins, Feinstein released the following ominous statement last night, "We will not support any bill that does not meet these goals. We will insist than any extension of the program requires that the minimum fuel economy improvement for newly purchased vehicles be at least two miles per gallon higher than it is under the enacted Clunkers program. It is also important to include lower-income consumers who are disadvantaged under the current program. So, we would also include a voucher for the purchase of fuel efficient used vehicles."
Indeed, Feinstein and Collins relented under pressure to pass a clunkers bill earlier this year after receiving what Feinstein's spokesman calls "absolute assurances" from Reid that any extension would be based on the Feinstein-Collins-Schumer bill.
But that's not the end of Reid's woes. Now this in a Twitter posting from Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-MO, who was very wary of the government bailouts that passed earlier this year, though she supported them. McCaskill, an active tweeter, today said, "We simply cannot afford any more taxpayr $ to extend cash for clunkers. Idea was to prime the pump, not subsidize auto purchases forever."
McCaskill echoed McCain, who said, "It's really an incredible process that we've gone through where recovery money that is supposed to be used in order to keep people in their homes and help the economy recovery. We're now again bailing out the automobile corporations, two of which we own. It's remarkable."