Conference Report on H.R. 22, Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2015by Representative Frank Pallone Jr.
Posted on 2015-12-03
PALLONE. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased that we were able to come
together to find a longer-term solution for our nation's
infrastructure. We cannot keep operating on short-term fixes.
Investments in our country's infrastructure need certainty. Though I
would have preferred to see greater funding levels across the board, I
am pleased to see provisions such as the High Density States Program
are protected and funded for the next five years. While I will vote for
this bill because it puts Americans back to work and allows our state
and transit authorities to do long-term planning for our crumbling
infrastructure, I must highlight some of the reasons this bill falls
The most substantial decreases in injuries and deaths on our roads and highways occurred as a result of major safety advancements, such as requiring seatbelts and airbags in all new cars. Today, we have a vehicle title that does not include such a safety advancement and does little to improve safety. This was a missed opportunity. This bill could have included meaningful safety improvements, such as imminent hazard authority to allow NHTSA to expedite a recall order when necessary, a requirement that ensured recalled used cars are repaired before they are sold, safety standards for rear seat crashworthiness, and the elimination of regional-only recalls that no longer make sense for our increasingly mobile world. And civil penalties should have been higher so that sacrificing safety will not be treated as a ``slap on the wrist'' or just another cost of doing business.
Instead, this vehicle title includes provisions that take a step backwards on safety and that could actually lead to more injuries and deaths on our roads. For example, it includes a provision that exempts an unlimited number of replica cars--that is, new cars made to resemble old cars--from vehicle safety laws, clean air requirements, and state emissions testing. It also includes a whistleblower provision that will not encourage, and may effectively discourage, whistleblowers from reporting serious safety problems to the government. And even the promising rental car provision section, which requires rental car companies and auto dealers to repair recalled cars before renting or loaning them to customers, was weakened by excluding those that have a fleet of fewer than 35 vehicles.
I am disappointed that the bicameral, bipartisan process failed to craft a vehicle title that actually enhances safety.