Code & Conduit Podcast: Rep. Bob Latta Eyes Self-Driving Car Compromise This Year


The chief House proponent of getting self-driving cars on U.S. roads says Congress must pass a self-driving car law this year.

The House, Rep. Bob Latta (R-Ohio) told a recent episode of Code & Conduit, spent a lot of time working on H. 3388, his bill directing the U.S. Department of Transportation to set up a regulatory framework for testing self-driving cars and ensuring they’re safe.

Latta, who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection Subcommittee, said it’s crucial that a compromise bill passes before the 115th Congress adjourns. Otherwise, it faces an uncertain fate in the next Congress.

“Industry and technology is not waiting for Congress,” said Latta, whose bill passed the House in an amended form Sept. 6, 2017. “Other countries and other foreign makers—they’re not waiting for us, they’re moving forward.”

A self-driving car law may become a reality before the year’s out. In the Senate, there are signs a comparable bill may move after being held up for almost a year.

Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee Chairman John Thune told Bloomberg Government the week of July 16 that the bill (S. 1885) might be added as an amendment to the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill (S. 1405) in the coming days, or possibly to another bill.

Thune said he is still tweaking the measure with input from Democrats, automakers, car dealers, trial lawyers, and others.

Latta, for his part, wants a voice in a House-Senate conference that would resolve differences in the two bills—once a Senate bill passes. “On our side, we did extensive work over a very long period of time,” he said.

Both the House and Senate versions would help companies bring self-driving cars to market by creating a federal framework to govern testing and deployment.

Latta also told Code & Conduit about other high-tech related legislation he’s introduced that’s moving forward, including a bill promoting broadband for farm and ranch land, and another calling for a study of how to foster and regulate connected devices.

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