Congress Waffling on NHTSA Funding Increase

Congress Waffling on NHTSA Funding Increase

A large funding increase for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is looking uncertain. 

The Senate’s top Republican on the Commerce Committee, Sen. John Thune, R-S.D has said that he isn’t ready to endorse a large budget increase. This comes after President Barack Obama proposed tripling NHTSA’s budge for is Office of Defect Investigations from $10.7 million up to $31 million.

“It’s no longer reasonable frankly to expect an office with eight screeners and 16 defects investigators to adequately analyze 75,000 complaints a year,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx told The Detroit News.

Thune thinks that reform is needed as well, but he doesn’t see a budget increase as the answer. “We think there are ways too that you could reform and accomplish some things (without higher funding),” Thune said. “Clearly, we want to work with them, but it’s going to be tough in this budgetary environment with all the constraints that we’re dealing with to get significant increases in funding for any agency.”

SEE ALSO: NHTSA Seeks to Triple Funding

NHTSA is under scrutiny these days after the record number of recalls in 2014 and in particular the GM recall of 2.2 million cars over faulty ignition switches. If the funding is approved, NHTSA’s defects team would rise from 28 to 56.5 full-time positions. In total, NHTSA wants to add 57 new employees.

In the near future, the Obama administration is expected to release a new and improved version of a long-term highway funding bill, which is said to include new measures that pertain to auto safety.  These include allowing NHTSA to fine automakers up to $300 million for failing to recall vehicles in a timely fashion and barring used and rental car facilities from selling unrepaired recalled vehicles.

[Source: The Detroit News]

  • smartacus

    Now? increase funding now?
    Just last month, we learned vehicle deaths are so low that some models have like zero deaths on them.
    Let GM pay for more NHTSA. God knows NHTSA would be out of business without GM!