By Manu Raju
WASHINGTON, July 30 (POLITICO) - The Obama administration is telling lawmakers that its much-touted "cash-for-clunkers" program is already running out of money and will be suspended Thursday night, according to three Senate aides familiar with the discussions.
The program -- aimed at giving at boost to the U.S. auto industry -- was supposed to expire at the end of October. But in the one week since it took effect, it appears to have run dry of the $1 billion allocated to it, aides said Thursday.
The White House will need to decide whether to push for more money at a time when it's also pushing an ambitious and expensive domestic agenda -- or let the program fade after it was touted as a way to help Detroit while improving the environment.
White House aides were not immediately available for comment. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration administers the program, but no one was available for comment Thursday evening.
Last Friday, registration began for dealers who wanted to participate in the program, which is intended to encourage consumers to trade in their old cars for a credit program to purchase new fuel efficient cars. Under the rules that went into effect last week, the purchased vehicles must be 2008, 2009 or 2010 models, and the vehicles must be purchased between July and November to qualify. And consumers would be able to receive a $3,500-$4,500 discount from car dealerships when they trade in their old vehicles and purchase a new one.
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