On Nov. 5, the House of Representatives passed a highway bill (H.R. 22), which included the Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act of 2015 (or recall bill), by a 363-64 margin.
The recall bill included the Williams Amendment. Proposed by Rep. Roger Williams (R-Texas), the amendment states only companies whose primary business is renting vehicles — rental car companies — are subject to the bill’s restrictions of grounding vehicles under recall.
This means car dealers would be exempt from being required to ground vehicles in their rental fleet that have an unrepaired safety recall from the manufacturer.
The National Independent Automobile Dealers Association (NIADA) and the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) support this amendment. NIADA urged its members to support the Williams Amendment. In a statement, NIADA said passage of the recall bill without the Williams Amendment “could cripple them or put them out of business entirely.”
The American Car Rental Association (ACRA) strongly opposes this amendment, which serves as a carve-out for auto dealers, who often rent or loan vehicles to their customers. ACRA advised the House to reject it.
“All car rental customers expect and deserve the same level of safety protection when renting a vehicle — whether it’s from a car rental company or rented (or loaned) by a car dealer,” according to a ACRA letter written to House Speaker Paul Ryan and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. “There is no justification for this dual safety standard. …”
“Why should customers who rent from an auto dealer risk being put into a vehicle with an unrepaired safety recall?” according to ACRA. “If auto dealers are in the business of renting vehicles, then all rental vehicle laws should apply to them.”
The bill now moves to a House/Senate conference committee. That conference will be taking place in the next few weeks; the current federal highway program authorization ends on Nov. 20.