Senate Passes Clunker-Free Stimulus Bill


February 10, 2009
Contact: Della Domingo
909/396-0289, x.130


SEMA applauds lawmakers for avoiding wasteful spending that costs American jobs.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (February 10, 2009) – SEMA, the Specialty Equipment Market Association, praised the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives for passing “clunker-free” versions of the economic stimulus bill. SEMA launched the largest grassroots effort in its 46-year history to oppose attempts by some Washington lawmakers to include a national car crushing program in the legislation. Thousands of SEMA members and SEMA Action Network (SAN) enthusiasts responded to a call for action urging legislators to reject the program.

Cash for Clunkers programs accelerate the normal retirement of vehicles through the purchase of older cars which are then typically crushed into blocks of scrap metal. For 20 years, Congress has rejected this ‘sounds good’ idea because it fails to spur car sales, reduce vehicle emissions or raise fleet fuel economy.

Two proposals were considered during the debate. The first was an $8 billion program targeting SUVs and pickup trucks of any model year that make less than 18 mpg such as Chevy Silverados, Dodge Rams, Ford F-Series and Jeep Wranglers. The second would have provided $16 billion worth of cash vouchers toward the purchase of a new vehicle for qualified individuals who allowed their turned-in cars to be destroyed.

“SEMA continues to believe that a cash for clunkers program would, for no proven gain, hurt thousands of independent repair shops, auto restorers, customizers and their customers across the country that depend on the used-car market,” said SEMA Vice President of Government Affairs Steve McDonald. “We look forward to working with the House and Senate and all stakeholders on sound economic solutions to the current recession that will help drive product sales for the entire auto industry, including the vast automotive aftermarket and its specialty equipment segment.”

The Senate economic stimulus bill includes a SEMA-supported amendment which allows taxpayers to claim a federal tax deduction on car-loan interest payments and state sales/excise taxes when buying a new car in 2009. If enacted in the final stimulus bill, the $11 billion program could save about $1,550 on a $25,000 vehicle purchase. The tax break would be limited to individuals earning less than $125,000 a year ($250,000 for couples) and would apply to car loans up to $49,500.

A House/Senate conference committee will now reconcile the legislation. Since the House passed a clunker-free bill in late January, the final economic stimulus bill which emerges will be as well. The House bill did not include a car loan tax deduction. SEMA is urging the conference negotiators to include the Senate amendment in the final legislation.

The two Cash for Clunkers proposals may reemerge later this year. SEMA will remain vigilant in opposition.


About SEMA
SEMA represents the $38.1 billion specialty automotive industry. Founded in 1963, the trade association has 7,358 member companies. It is the authoritative source of research data, trends and market growth information for automakers and the specialty auto products industry. The industry provides appearance, performance, comfort, convenience and technology products for passenger cars, minivans, trucks, SUVs, crossovers and recreational vehicles. For more information, contact SEMA at 1575 S. Valley Vista Dr., Diamond Bar, CA, 91765-3914; call 909/396-0289; or visit or

About SAN
The SEMA Action Network (SAN) is a nationwide partnership of car clubs, and individual enthusiasts who work together to impact legislation that affects car and truck enthusiasts of all kinds. SAN members receive up-to-date electronic alerts on enthusiast-related legislation in their state and across the country. Through the SAN, SEMA is in direct communication with nearly 3 million individuals. The SAN message reaches a potential readership of 36 million through enthusiast publications and websites. For more information, contact SEMA or visit