Senate GOP on Clunkers - "It's in Harry's Court"

Some Senate Republicans sound like they're on the cusp of a filibuster of the "Cash for Clunkers" bill that passed out of the House last week, but none are ready to pull the trigger and some just plan to oppose the bill.

Sen. Jim DeMint, R-SC, said he hopes Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV, will wait until September to put forward the House-passed bill that extends the existing program with $2 billion, but he says he will wait to see what Reid does before making any decisions about a filibuster.

When asked what he thought of the favorable Clunker numbers coming out of the Administration showing a 60% increase in the purchasing of more fuel efficient cars, with an average of 25mpg, DeMint balked.

"I don't believe the phone numbers coming out of the White House on stimulus...I certainly don't believe what they're saying about Clunkers," DeMint said.

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-OK, says he, too, is "holding his fire" until he sees what Reid does. "It's in Harry's court," Coburn said, adding the he objects to the extension of the program in principle as it favors one industry over others.

DeMint and Coburn both cited concern for the program's affect on used car dealers.

DeMint said he had talked to one dealer who spent $400,000 but said he has been told he could be waiting 40-60 days for any of the rebate money.

"This is just mass chaos," DeMint said of the program, adding, "We need to know what kind of cars were destroyed, what is this program doing to used car dealers...We need to get to the bottom of this."

Coburn said he wondered if some of the trade-ins might have been shipped overseas for a profit (to be put back into federal coffers), saying someone in another country might happily have received a "clunker" and driven it for years.

Sen. Jim Bunning, R-KY, who vigorously opposed the original deal said he does not plan to object to the bill coming to the floor, "but I will vote against it."

Sen. John McCain, R-AZ, earlier told Fox he, too, will not filibuster but will oppose the bill.  The same holds for Sen. David Vitter, R-LA, according to a spokesman.

All of this said, one senior Senate GOP leadership aide insists that an objection is expected when Reid moves to take up the House-passed bill, something that could happen as early as Wednesday.