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The lead House lawmaker on legislation to regulate automated vehicles sees his bill as one of the first his chamber can tackle in 2023, after years of little action in Congress.
Legislation to create a regulatory framework for self-driving cars has been in limbo for years despite bipartisan interest, bogged down by opposition from unions and trial lawyers as well as safety concerns. An attempt to attach it to appropriations legislation this week was unsuccessful. Lawmakers say a regulatory framework is needed to accelerate development and preempt varying rules from states.
“It’s a high priority for me, and I know on our side in the committee,” Rep. Bob Latta (R-Ohio), a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, said in an interview. “I’m confident that when we get into the next Congress that I’m going to reintroduce this legislation; we’ll get it out of the House and get it over to the Senate.”
Without action on a federal framework in Congress, companies are pressing ahead. The Federal Register is set to publish petitions on Thursday from Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co. asking the Transportation Department for exemptions to federal safety standards for vehicles with automated driving systems.
Latta last year introduced the SELF DRIVE Act (H.R. 3711), which has only Republican cosponsors. The broad proposal would preempt state regulation of automated vehicles, and covers updated standards, cybersecurity, and privacy.
With limited time left in this Congress, Latta said Republican lawmakers are already working on priorities for next year so that when “we hit January the 3rd, we’re not going to waste a lot of time.” Republicans are seeking to take control of the House from Democrats in the November midterm elections.
The House Rules Committee this week didn’t include Latta’s amendment to a spending package for fiscal 2023 (H.R. 8294) that aimed to accelerate the development of automated vehicles by creating a federal framework.
In contrast, the House passed Latta’s legislation by voice vote in 2017, when Republicans controlled both chambers. But the Senate never considered it, and neither chamber has voted on an automated car bill since.
After several years of inaction, more lawmakers are showing renewed interest in regulating self-driving cars as traffic deaths have spiked. Roughly 43,000 people died in crashes last year, the most since 2005, early federal data estimate. Latta said the US could prevent deaths by putting more automated vehicles on the road.
Lawmakers and industry also worry other countries, such as China, are getting ahead on the technology as the US stalls on regulation.
“The United States should be the one leading in self-drive,” Latta said. “We should not use other countries’ technology.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Lillianna Byington in Washington at email@example.com