WASHINGTON (CNN) – With the Senate poised to pass a bill Thursday night expanding the "cash for clunkers" program with an infusion of $2 billion, White House aides say President Obama will quickly sign the bill into law by the end of the week so there's no interruption to the popular incentive this weekend.
"He's going to want to make sure the funds are in place by this weekend," one senior White House official noted because of the particularly brisk weekend business the program has sparked.
There has been concern the program is so popular it will run out of its initial $1 billion in funding if the Senate leaves for recess this week without completing a deal. Several top Republicans, including Sen. John McCain of Arizona, raised concerns about pouring more money into the program at a time when the government is deep in debt.
But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and other top Democrats have been lining up votes for the expansion by making the case that the program is providing a boost to the economy by increasing weak auto sales, while also helping the environment by getting "clunkers" off the road in favor of more fuel-efficient vehicles.
Several Democratic officials told CNN the hurdles have been cleared in order to allow the Senate to pass the bill with new money, which was passed by the House last week, on Thursday night. Reid is expected to bring it up for a vote around 7 pm or 8 pm ET, according to the officials, and then it is expected to be quickly sent to Obama's desk for his signature by the end of the week