The House today approved an additional $2 billion for the government's "cash for clunkers" program, moving unusually quickly to replenish the program after overwhelming demand from consumers left the initiative in danger of shutting down because of lack of funds.

The 316-109 vote showed the strong bipartisan support for the program. The Senate could take up the bill next week. But supporters hope that cash for clunkers can continue to operate, knowing that additional money was in the pipeline.

"Thanks to quick bipartisan responses, we're doing everything possible to continue this progam and to help consumers and the auto industry contribute to our recovery," President Obama said shortly after the House vote. He noted that cash for clunkers has succeeded "well beyond our expectations" and had caused "a dramatic increase in showroom traffic at local car dealers."

Congress had appropriated $1 billion for the program last month in hopes it would spur auto sales by offering $3,500 to $4,500 rebates to consumers who traded in their vehicles for more fuel-efficient models. In less than a week, sales and pending orders have used up nearly all the money.

"The American consumer has taken cash for clunkers on a test drive and . . . they want to continue this program," said Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), one of the sponsors of the original legislation.

Lawmakers and Obama administration officials were scrambling as the day began to find more money before the House shut down for its August recess and to reassure weekend car shoppers. The House bill transfers $2 billion into the program from a $6-billion Energy Department loan guarantee fund to spur innovation in renewable energy technology.

The loan fund, which was set up as part of the $787-billion economic stimulus legislation this year, will use only half the money this year, giving Congress time to replenish it, said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco).

The Senate is in session another week.

Democrats and Republicans praised cash for clunkers as a needed jolt to the economy.

"Finally, we have a bailout not for the big businesses, not for Wall Street, but for Main Street," said Rep. Dan Maffei (D-N.Y.). "Don't stall what's working. Give it a fill-up and lets get cash for clunkers back on the road."

Fiscal conservatives had balked at the original $4-billion price tag of the program, and the Senate scaled it back to $1 billion last month.

And there was some opposition to expanding cash for clunkers today by lawmakers concerned about the huge budget deficit and that the goverment was helping a specific industry.

Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R- Texas) complained there was no such bailout for other struggling industries.

"Almost everyone is hurting in this economy, and sadly for many workers across East Texas and America, Pilgrim's Pride, one of the largest poultry producers in the country, recently had to file for bankruptcy," Hensarling said. "Where's their 'cash for cluckers' program?"

Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said the White House assured him that the program would continue.

"We don't know how long it will last, so people should go to their car dealers now if they want to take advantage of the program," he said. "We're also going to seek additional funding to hopefully make the program last longer."

The program has burned through its $1-billion budget in less than a week as car buyers swarmed dealerships.

The program, designed to jump-start car sales and improve the fuel efficiency of the nation's auto fleet, unleashed a wave of pent-up demand that threatened to exhaust funds before dealers could be fully reimbursed for rebates under the plan.

As word got out Thursday that the program might be suspended at midnight, some car dealers reported a surge in nighttime buyers.