WASHINGTON (Sept. 22, 2000)—Like its counterpart in the Senate, the House Commerce Committee also is poised to pass legislation before the October recess to expand the federal government´s powers regarding auto and tire safety defects.
The Subcommittee on Telecommunications, Trade and Consumer Protection was to hold a hearing Sept. 21, as this issue was going to press, on the Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability and Documentation Act, or TREAD Act.
Introduced Sept. 13 by Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., the TREAD Act would grant the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration the authority to require reporting of foreign auto or tire defects and all claims data on tires, according to a summary.
It also would increase from three to five years the statute of limitations on tire recalls; increase safety-related penalties for all auto, parts and tire makers; require a rewrite of the 32-year-old Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 109, which covers passenger tires; and authorize an additional $500,000 for the NHTSA Office of Defects Investigations.
The Ford-Firestone uproar is "a personal issue to me, because I am a Michigander," Mr. Upton said in introducing the bill. "When the integrity of one of our cars is called into question, we want to get to the bottom of it and fix it."
Fifteen of Mr. Upton´s colleagues at House Commerce are co-sponsoring the bill, including Rep. W.J. "Billy" Tauzin, R-La., who co-chaired the Sept. 6 House Commerce subcommittee hearing on the Firestone recall with Mr. Upton.
More than 20 years ago, House Commerce held hearings on the Firestone 500 recall, Mr. Upton noted. "As I read the testimony from those hearings, a number of things were exposed and identified, but they didn´t take any corrective action," he said. "That´s just what this bill does."
Sponsors of the TREAD Act are in contact with Mr. McCain, and will confer with Senate Commerce to obtain a coordinated bill that can be passed before adjournment, which is scheduled for Oct. 5.