Senate Committee’s No Vote Incenses Lawmakers Seeking Auto Safety Reforms

WASHINGTON — The push to impose criminal penalties on auto executives who fail to disclose deadly automobile defects hit another roadblock last week when a Senate committee voted down such a proposal.

Lawmakers and safety advocates who were pushing to institute criminal penalties for such behavior expressed dismay as that and a series of other auto safety reforms — including barring used-car dealers from selling vehicles with unrepaired recalls — also failed to proceed.

“Hiding these deadly defects with near impunity is what the industry has succeeded in doing,” said Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut, who introduced several provisions that were voted down.

A few measures like raising the maximum civil penalty on automakers from $35 million to $70 million won approval, however. Republicans also agreed to give the Obama administration the funding increases it had requested for certain National Highway Traffic Safety Administration programs, provided the agency first adopts all of the inspector general’s recent recommendations.

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