SCHUMER: RENTAL CAR SAFETY LEGISLATION IS TOUGH BUT FAIR – WILL PUT PASSENGER SAFETY FIRST & PREVENT FURTHER TRAGEDIES FROM RECALLED VEHICLES

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Meredith Kelly (202) 224-7433

May 21, 2013

AT FIRST-EVER HEARING ON RENTAL CAR SAFETY BILL…

SCHUMER: RENTAL CAR SAFETY LEGISLATION IS TOUGH BUT FAIR – WILL PUT PASSENGER SAFETY FIRST & PREVENT FURTHER TRAGEDIES FROM RECALLED VEHICLES

Schumer – Boxer Bill Would Prevent Rental Companies from Renting or Selling Cars Under Recall

Legislation Named for Raechel and Jacqueline Houck, Who Were Killed When Their Rental Car, Which Was Under Recall, Caught Fire and Crashed

Schumer: Safety Can’t Wait – This Bipartisan Bill Must Move Forward

Today, U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer, Barbara Boxer, Lisa Murkowski, and Claire McCaskill’s legislation, the Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act of 2013, is the subject of a hearing before the Commerce Committee, Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Insurance. The first-ever hearing on the bill, chaired by Senator Claire McCaskill, will feature testimony from Carol Houck, the mother of Raechel and Jacqueline, the head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, consumer advocates and representatives of rental car companies. Enterprise, Hertz, Avis Budget, and Dollar Thrifty, as well as the American Car Rental Association, representing almost the entire rental market, support the legislation.

In a statement submitted to the subcommittee, Schumer pledged to continue working with the rental car companies to craft legislation that would improve rental car safety without creating an undue burden on the industry.

The hearing will be live-streamed HERE.

The full text of Schumer’s statement, submitted into the Congressional Record, is below:

Thank you Chairman McCaskill for holding this important hearing.

Millions of travelers will hit the road during the Memorial Day holiday weekend, many of them in rental cars. These travelers deserve total assurance that the cars they rent are safe. The Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act would provide that assurance.

In 2004, sisters Raechel and Jacqueline Houck were killed driving a rental car that had been recalled for a power steering hose defect but had not been repaired. Raechel was 24. Jacqueline was 20. Today, Ms. Carol Houck, Raechel and Jacqueline’s mother, is here to testify about the need for this legislation – the need to ensure this tragedy is not repeated. We owe it to Raechel and Jacqueline to move this bill through Congress. We owe it to their family. We owe it to all drivers to put their safety first.

Is this bill personal? You bet it is. My two daughters are almost exactly the same ages as Raechel and Jacqueline when they died.

But this bill is also practical. Federal law already prohibits new car dealers from selling recalled vehicles without first fixing the safety defects. Rental companies have agreed to be held to the same standard. If a car is not safe enough to be bought and driven off the lot, then that car is not safe enough to rent.

The Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act is supported by companies representing virtually 100 percent of the rental car market. This includes both the large rental companies like Enterprise, Hertz, and Avis Budget, as well as small businesses represented by the American Car Rental Association (ACRA).

Pretty amazing, isn’t it? Virtually the entire industry is behind this bill. It wasn’t easy, but after many months of negotiations and multiple iterations of the bill, we finally reached a compromise. The end result is a proposal that provides rental car customers additional assurance that the vehicles they rent are safe and gives companies that rent cars a regulatory framework that meets their operational concerns.

It is apparent from testimony today that auto manufacturers and dealers have some additional concerns with the bill. While I am not sure I am in agreement with all of their requests, I am willing to continue working with manufacturers and dealers to try to address their outstanding issues.

But let me be clear on one point – we will not vitiate the core principle of this bill. Simply put, a rental vehicle subject to a safety recall cannot be rented or sold until the safety defect is remedied. This is a straightforward, commonsense standard.

We hope that the auto manufacturers and the dealers will join in support of this bill. A bill that is supported by both large companies and small businesses. A bill that recognizes and embraces public safety as a top priority.

I would like to thank all the witnesses for their testimony today. I also would like to thank Chairman McCaskill and Senator Boxer for working with me to forge the compromise between auto safety groups and rental car companies.

We will continue to work to move this bill through Congress. We owe it to Raechel and Jacqueline. We owe it to their family. We owe it to all families.

Bazzo 05/21/13

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