WASHINGTON (Oct. 9, 2000) — The House and Senate have passed a $58 billion Department of Transportation appropriations bill by wide margins and sent it to President Clinton for signing.
Late in the morning of Oct. 6, the bill passed 344-50 in the House and, about an hour later, by a 78-10 vote in the Senate. It contains provisions lifting a ban on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration using its funds to craft a vehicle rollover rating rule, and to require tire and auto makers to notify NHTSA of foreign recalls or customer satisfaction programs involving their products.
However, the bill of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., to strengthen NHTSA´s powers to gather defect information and punish wrongdoers continued to languish on the Senate floor, as three senators — Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Jim Bunning, R-Ky., according to Mr. McCain´s office — placed legislative holds on it. Groups such as the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers vociferously oppose the criminal penalty provisions in the bill, which would make auto and tire executives liable to prison terms of up to 15 years for knowingly selling defective products.
Mr. McCain tried to hold the DOT appropriations bill hostage on the Senate floor to force a vote on his bill, but gave up on that tactic early on. "I want to express my deep disappointment that the fix is in by the special interests," he said on the Senate floor.