Congress looks to rev up discussion around self-driving car legislation

Congress looks to rev up discussion around self-driving car legislation

Two key congressional committees are restarting talks with relevant stakeholders to put together legislation for self-driving cars after two bills last Congress failed to be signed into law amid pushback from consumer advocates and some Senate Democrats.

“The House Committee on Energy and Commerce and Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation are working on a bipartisan and bicameral basis to develop a self-driving car bill,” the panels wrote in a letter sent to stakeholders on Tuesday that was obtained by The Hill.  

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The committees asked for feedback on issues involved in creating legislation on self-driving cars such as the cybersecurity of the vehicles, the privacy of data collected and how to update existing standards in place for automated vehicles.

The panels gave stakeholders until Aug. 23 to respond with feedback on the creation of the bill, and stressed that the objective of asking for feedback was to be “as inclusive as possible.”

Putting in place standards around autonomous vehicles was a major bipartisan focus during the last Congress, with the House Energy and Commerce Committee approving the Self-Drive Act and the Senate Commerce Committee pushing forward the AV START Act. 

Both bills would have preempted any state laws pertaining to regulating self-driving cars, with both also including language on reducing cyber risks to the vehicles and ensuring the safety of occupants. 

While the House passed the Self-Drive Act by voice vote in 2017, the Senate never took up the AV START Act due to objections over safety and security provisions in the bill by Democrats including Sens. Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinHarris shares video addressing staffers the night Trump was elected: 'This is some s---' Centrist Democrats seize on state election wins to rail against Warren's agenda Senate talks on stalled Violence Against Women Act reauthorization unravel MORE (Calif.), and Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyOvernight Defense: Families sue over safety hazards at Army base | Lawmakers, NBA's Enes Kanter speak out ahead of Erdoğan visit | Washington braces for public impeachment hearings NBA's Enes Kanter speaks out against Erdoğan ahead of White House visit Democrats unifying against Joe Kennedy Senate bid MORE (Mass.). 

In May, Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Roger WickerRoger Frederick WickerMicrosoft embraces California law, shaking up privacy debate Trump circuit court nominee in jeopardy amid GOP opposition Pay America's Coast Guard MORE (R-Miss.) said at a U.S. Chamber of Commerce event that his panel is “going to deal with autonomous vehicles” during this Congress, noting that there are “wrinkles that need to be ironed out” related to any legislation introduced on this. 

During the last Congress, Senate Majority Whip John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneTrump encounters GOP resistance to investigating Hunter Biden Republicans warn election results are 'wake-up call' for Trump The Hill's 12:30 Report: Public impeachment hearings to begin next week MORE (R-S.D.), the former Commerce Committee chairman, and Sen. Gary PetersGary Charles PetersAdvocates step up efforts for horse racing reform bill after more deaths Warren doubles down — to Democrats' chagrin, and Trump's delight Senators urge Trump to fill vacancies at DHS MORE (D-Mich.) led the charge to get the AV START Act passed in the Senate.

Last month, both Thune and Peters indicated to reporters that they will again take the lead on legislation on self-driving cars in that chamber.