(UPDATE, 1:25 pm: The House has passed the $2 billion extension of the cash for clunkers program 316-109; there will be no Senate vote before Monday)
WASHINGTON (CNN) – White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Friday the extremely popular "cash for clunkers" program is still up and running at least through this weekend, and said Obama administration officials are working furiously behind the scenes with Congressional leaders to find extra money to extend the program for a longer time period.
"It's up and running," Gibbs told reporters in his office, adding that it "can, will and should" continue indefinitely.
Meanwhile, Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan announced that lawmakers are closing in on a deal with the White House that would give the program, which allows consumers to trade in old cars for newer more fuel-efficient vehicles, an extra $2 billion to continue and expand it.
There had been media reports Thursday evening suggesting the $1 billion program had been abruptly suspended because the initial $1 billion to fund it was being exhausted more quickly than expected as consumers rushed to car dealers across the country to trade in vehicles.
But Gibbs told reporters the administration has kept the program going on Friday and "the program will be in place" for anyone who had been planning to make a car purchase this weekend.
"This program appears to be a success for car buyers, car dealers, car companies, and taxpayers," said Gibbs, adding the President believes it has the added value of helping the environment by getting less fuel-efficient cars off the roads. "We feel confident that we will have a solution people can agree on and the program continues."
Gibbs said the program has been "extremely popular" and that there are an estimated 20,000 certificates for vehicles swaps still waiting to be processed, a backlog that alarmed some government officials into believing the money will be tapped out shortly.