Auto safety proposals to be revived in Senate

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 21, 2011 3:07 PM
Auto safety proposals to be revived in Senate

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Safety legislation born out of the Toyota Motor Corp recall saga and opposed by automakers will be revived in the Senate this year, the chairman of the Commerce Committee said on Tuesday.

John Rockefeller of West Virginia said after a budget hearing that he was determined to see the measure through after it faded from the agenda amid the political upheaval that consumed the chamber last year.

"This is the year to do it," Rockefeller said.

The previous bill sought to raise maximum safety fines, boost personal liability for corporate executives in safety cases, and give new resources to regulators to force recalls.

It also would have let consumers legally challenge regulatory denials of their petitions to investigate alleged defects.

Automakers had said some provisions would jack up costs, potentially add confusion in production and ultimately slow sales.

Even if the Democratic-led Senate approved safety legislation, its fate would be uncertain in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, which is considered more business-friendly.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee has jurisdiction over auto safety and is chaired by Fred Upton. His homestate of Michigan is headquarters to General Motors Co, Ford Motor Co and Chrysler.

The panel's previous Democratic chairman, California's Henry Waxman, authored the House version of the safety bill that stemmed from Waxman and Rockefeller's hearings into massive Toyota recalls last year for unintended acceleration.

The safety provisions could be included in a six-year transportation construction spending bill the House and Senate plan to take up this spring or summer.

(Reporting by John Crawley; Editing by Gary Hill)

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