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'Clunkers' faces final hurdle

From NBC's Ken Strickland
The Senate is now debating the Cash for Clunkers bill, with a final vote planned for later this evening. But first the chamber will debate and vote on seven amendments to the bill.

Video: The Senate took on the car business with unusual haste Thursday in deciding whether to extend the popular "cash for clunkers" program. NBC's Kelly O'Donnell reports from Capitol Hill.

Because supporters of the bill are seeking an immediate infusion of $2 billion to keep the program going, the Senate must pass the House-passed version with no changes or amendments. So Majority Leader Harry Reid

must defeat all the amendments, and he is cautiously optimistic he will able to.

Each amendment -- and there are seven -- is allow up to 30 minutes of debate.  After all the time is used or yielded back, the Senate will vote on each amendment. That will be followed by a vote on final passage.

If Reid is successful in defeating every amendment and the bill passes, then it's sent to the president for his signature. Done. But, if even one amendment passes, the bill goes back to the House for a vote there in September when they return from recess. 

If all the time is used, this will be wrapped up between 8 and 9 p.m. But it could obviously happen sooner. We'll keep you posted.