WASHINGTON (Dec. 6, 2004) — Rep. Edolphus Towns, D-N.Y., will reintroduce the Motor Vehicle Owners' Right to Repair Act in the 109th Congress.
The Right to Repair Act would require—on pain of stiff criminal penalties—automobile manufacturers to provide independent repair shop owners with the same repair and diagnostic information that auto dealers get. In a press release from the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association, Rep. Towns said that while he hoped for a negotiated settlement with the auto makers, “until a fair compromise is reached, I remain committed to this important legislation.”
He said that some press reports had “mischaracterized” him as backing off from supporting the legislation. A spokesman for Rep. Towns said he wasn't sure when the bill would be reintroduced or whether it would be identical to the legislation introduced in the 108th Congress.
“We're still trying to work across the aisle” with Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, he said.
The Right to Repair Act is supported by virtually all aftermarket associations except the Automotive Service Association (ASA), which negotiated a voluntary agreement with auto makers to set up auto repair Web sites accessible to all. Supporters of the legislation note that the auto makers could renege on the ASA agreement at any time without threat of punishment, while the ASA and the auto makers insist that forcing federal sanctions into the process will create a cumbersome new stratum of government bureaucracy.