By on November 7, 2015

Congressman Michael C. Burgess (R-TX)

Through an amendment by U.S. Representative Michael C. Burgess (R-TX) to the transportation funding bill, the House voted in favor of dialing back planned budget increases for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on Thursday, Automotive News reported.

Those planned increases of $46.3 million for 2016 and $76.7 million by 2021 have been cut by $15 million per year.

Burgess is chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade and is responsible for a 62-page draft bill that would have credited vehicles with three advanced safety devices an additional 3 grams of CO2 per mile, up to 6 grams of CO2 per mile for a car that communicates with the road.

The cuts to the NHTSA’s increased budget come as the agency levied a record $70 million fine against Takata this week.

The NHTSA has come under scrutiny in recent years for being too cozy with and lenient on automakers and parts suppliers. The agency has taken a harder line against safety offenders under administrator Mark Rosekind, said Automotive News.

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80 Comments on “House Republicans Vote to Cut NHTSA Budget Increases...”


  • avatar
    anomaly149

    Another NHSTA budget cut?

    What’s the end game here? Congress screaming at a wooden post with a bunch of pink slips nailed to it about why it didn’t know more about the race condition in the 2030 Self-Drive-O-Matic’s programming?

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      You don’t hear much about it, but auto safety is one of the Obama administration’s pet projects. The leap in the number of recalls and the skyrocketing fines are part of that effort.

      Since it’s an Obama initiative, GOP pushback is obligatory. Opposing the president is the thing that motivates them most.

      • 0 avatar

        Imputing that those who favor limited government are evil (in no small part to trumpet their own supposed moral superiority) seems to be what motivates the left the most. That and being control freaks.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          Next time, try to respond to the comment that was made instead of to your misinterpretation of it.

          • 0 avatar
            Da Coyote

            Hmmmm, methinks we have a marshmallow major lib here. A bit grouchy, are we?

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            As usual, Da Poodle has nothing of value to add.

          • 0 avatar
            thornmark

            Next time read the article. The budget is increasing.

            And spending more money doesn’t necessarily mean more safety. Especially w/ government more resources just means more waste.

            Other peoples’ money.

        • 0 avatar
          Astigmatism

          I’m not sure where you get “evil” from, but the Republicans’ plans to “challenge [the Obama administration] on every single bill and challenge them on every single campaign” isn’t “imputed,” it’s historical fact.

          http://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/apr/26/democrats-gop-plot-obstruct-obama

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Mr. Schreiber is too busy listening to the voices inside his head to correctly interpret what he reads. It gets him pretty much every time, and it’s a problem that he’ll never fix.

          • 0 avatar
            TW5

            @astigmatism

            Republicans are scapegoated for every government failure. The conventional wisdom is that Republicans let capitalism run rough shod over benevolent government regulations or Republicans hate the government so they defund everything (when we actually spend multiples more than almost any other nation on our awful bureaucracies).

            The only legit gripe about the Republican Party is that they’ve become bigger trolls than Democrats. The Democratic Party was the main opposition to Civil Rights and they were the architects of dismantling the middle class spending for social programs. They still cut middle class spending for social avarice, while claiming they want the opposite. Republicans finally lost their marbles sometime after Obama’s election, or maybe before considering Palin’s ascent.

          • 0 avatar
            Phil A. Ofish

            Help me out. Name a few major items republican have actually voted successfully to stop…instead of just talking.

        • 0 avatar
          jkross22

          You’re inferring that Republicans are the party of limited government. It’s clear that neither they nor their Dem party colleagues has any interest in limited government.

          • 0 avatar

            I won’t argue with you that establishment Republicans are part of the problem in Washington. Much of the party hierarchy regards conservatives and libertarians as anathema to them. They favor big business and crony capitalism (something they share with Democrats) over free markets and average Americans.

            In terms of funding NHTSA or the DOT, I prefer research to regulations, funding scientists rather than cops.

          • 0 avatar

            One of the key benefits of being in government is getting your nieces and nephews cushy government jobs with great benefits. This is done by creating and expanding departments, whether they are necessary or not. If politicians start cutting spending, the jobs of their family members, or jobs the family members of their colleagues would be in jeopardy. This is the main reason why the government will only grow.

        • 0 avatar
          Jeff Waingrow

          Ronnie, your response is what’s known as a non sequitur. I’m guessing you know what that means. Another characteristic of your comment is that it’s angry and totally uncalled for. I’ve followed your writings and comments, and that underlying anger almost always comes through. Talk about a chip. And it’s a shame because you’re an excellent contributor who does the hard research. I wish Mark would get on your case because you’re setting a bad example and encouraging more of the same.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        ….Since it’s an Obama initiative, GOP push-back is obligatory. Opposing the president is the thing that motivates them most….

        Ain’t that the truth. But the sad part is that this GOP strategy has paid off handsomely, at least for the short term. Despite the logjam in Congress, the Republicans managed to regain control of both houses even though they are mostly responsible for it. And if they regain the White House, you can expect the Democrats to use the GOP playbook as well.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          Exactly. It’s a political tactic that is independent of the policy itself. The policy may be good, bad or indifferent, but the response to it would be the same in any case.

    • 0 avatar

      To be fair, it isn’t a budget cut. It’s a cut to planned increases in the NHTSA’s budget.

      • 0 avatar
        jkross22

        +1

      • 0 avatar
        dwford

        It’s sad that we have been so brainwashed by the politicians talk of cuts that are not cuts, that now we all refer to them as cuts as well, even though the “cuts” really just a lesser increase than planned. Ahh baseline budgeting.

      • 0 avatar
        jimmyy

        Democrats tend to have a lower IQ level and are not capable of distinguishing the difference between an actual budget cut and a budget that will increase by less than the requested increase.

        • 0 avatar
          Charliej

          Sorry Jimmyy, studies show that the intelligence of conservatives is several IQ points lower than the IQ of liberals. A British study showed that the lower the IQ, the more conservative and the more religious to person was. Scientists, who generally are higher IQ types are almost uniformly liberal and mostly atheist. So it turns out that the people the right hates the most are smarter than the people hating them.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            Such studies are completely fabricated, as progressives are dependent on the ignorant and stupid to push their false narratives forward. I will debate the entirety of Baltimore if you really don’t know you’re lying to yourself about your mental frailty.

          • 0 avatar
            dolorean

            Thank you CJ for being the poster child for Charlie’s point. Now, get on back to yer lib media that fuel yours inner imputent rage and tells you how to think.

          • 0 avatar
            Drzhivago138

            I’d like to see sources for both of these studies, as well as proof of the alleged fabrication. Thank you in advance for any help you can provide.

          • 0 avatar
            RideHeight

            I’d like to see people spell stuff correctly when attacking the intelligence of others.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            The sources themselves are easy to locate. You’ll have to crawl through the sewer of CJ’s imagination in order to find the evidence of fabrication.

          • 0 avatar
            kosmo

            Except for notable exceptions like Einstein.

          • 0 avatar
            thornmark

            OK, name a study.

            Scientists who are uniformly on the gov payroll produce what the gov wants them to produce.

            You wouldn’t know this, but Eisenhower warned ag/ such guv funded “research” in his Mil-Ind complex speech. How prescient was that.

            Peer review fraud has been accelerating at politicized scientific journals.

            Two large publishers of scientific journals have retracted more than 100 papers in the last year.

          • 0 avatar
            TrailerTrash

            this was just plain stupid.
            The real research shows that those who use such studies are in fact the low IQs.
            The first sign of idiocy is having hair on your knuckles..
            The second is the looking for it.

            And then there is the third…the use of studies from the UK.

            Wow…the anti GOP All Gov Is Good is astounding! I can show you a thousand studies released by the government alone about waste and lost funds.
            To be so weirdly tolerant of such is beyond this auto site.

            Hang in there Mark…the remarks should only make you feel better.

      • 0 avatar
        anomaly149

        “To be fair, it isn’t a budget cut. It’s a cut to planned increases in the NHTSA’s budget.”

        That’s a valid point.

        That being said, the next generation Chevy Cruze will likely be a 1.5 billion dollar program, vs a total annual NHSTA budget of something like 900 million dollars. (where only ~180 million is for vehicle safety, or probably about as much as a set of top hat stamping dies at a single factory)

    • 0 avatar
      Toad

      “Those planned increases of $46.3 million for 2016 and $76.7 million by 2021 have been cut by $15 million per year.”

      The budget is increasing, just not as much as the administration would like. Only in Washington would that be considered a cut.

      Score one for the Obama PR machine: they managed to get Automotive News and TTAC to spin a budget increase as a Republican threat to automotive safety. Poor reading comprehension + low information voters + news hole to fill for the PR win.

      Lesson to Republicans: if you want to cut spending, you might as well REALLY cut it since you are going to faulted for anything short exponential growth.

    • 0 avatar
      TW5

      Cutting the increase to the NHTSA budget is bad politics, especially when the DOT is badly underfunded, but NHTSA has the same problems as the larger department. Bureaucrats spend most of the money on pet projects that generate revenue and jobs for their political friends, especially research and studies. IIRC, about half of the Highway Trust Fund is spent on non-construction, non-maintenance functions. This is common in the DoT.

      Anyway, this bill is particularly bad politics because it diverts money to safety pet projects favored by this representative, but more importantly, it’s a slow backdoor repeal of CAFE, which is going to cripple certain segments of the auto industry, if the requirements are not walked back or lenient credits awarded.

      Think about it. Most of our US highways don’t even have guardrail systems, and we’re funding shoot-the-moon nonsense like cars that communicate with the road.

      • 0 avatar
        Mr. Orange

        Half? Using a GAO report from 2013 81% was used for the Federal Highway Administration, 17% for the Federal Transit Administration 1% for NHTSA and 1% for Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration.

        So of the 81% from the Highway Trust Fund, 47% was used on roads, 17% on bridges, 9% on safety and other enhancements, 20% on “Project development activities”, and 7% on other (other including tunnels and ferries)

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      I met a complete imbecile in person today. He knew literally nothing about the Democrats he votes for. It was almost as pathetic as watching people whine about responsible politicians blocking budget increases for a government we can’t begin to afford.

  • avatar
    Xeranar

    While it is a cut to expansion of their budget the NHTSA has been severely underfunded for years. This has been a long-term plan to keep recalls to a minimum and give car companies a longer leash. Now that the NHTSA has been enforcing the rules more aggressively the Republicans partially due to Obama and partially due to the regulatory nature of the body was caught in the crossfire.

    Any more a cut to future budget increases is actually a cut because it limits a starving man from getting a full meal.

  • avatar
    markf

    No, is it not a cut to anything. Lowering a planned increase is not a cut, the budget still goes up.

    Gotta love government math.

    • 0 avatar
      carguy

      Or the car makers lobbying against the government that bailed them out so they can continue to cheat safety and pollution laws.

      Gotta love corporate math.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        In this case, I’m not sure that more spending that will help. The system runs largely on voluntary compliance, and there is no way to have a budget that is large enough to test everything, every time.

        The Obama-era policy of shame-and-penalize-to-the-hilt combined with the usual spot checking seems to be pretty effective. It creates enough of a deterrent to encourage the industry to better police itself.

    • 0 avatar
      brn

      It doesn’t appear to be government math. It appears to be TTAC math.

  • avatar
    chuckrs

    From a quick peek at NHTSA’s own budget estimates and overviews, their overall budget is $801 million FY2014 and request for FY2015 was for $850 million. Roughly $550-570 million of that is in Highway Traffic Safety grants, of which $28 million is NHTSA’s administrative cut. The original Auto News article says the FY16 vehicle safety increase of $46 million is slashed by $15 million but is still added to the approximately $134 million spent in FY14 and (not clear) in FY15 on vehicle safety. What neither AN or TTAC tells me is what these reforms requested by the House actually are. I’m guessing this will be worked out to everyone’s mutual dissatisfaction, thru the reconciliation process, once NHTSA commits to an accelerated schedule on these unspecified reforms. I’d be gobsmacked if it were truly impossible to speed up reform of a government bureaucracy.

    • 0 avatar
      Lack Thereof

      According to the most recent information I can find, $20 million out of that $46 million for “vehicle safety” was specifically targeted at the Defect Investigation office. That was supposed to double the defect investigation headcount from 51 to 108, and get them up to 22 staff engineers.

      The other $26 million I can only find vaguer information about. There’s an awful lot of research work they have been wanting to do that they call out as using the expanded funding, but without attaching specific dollar amounts. Getting good statistics to measure pedestrian/bike safety, effective drug DUI countermeasures, distracted & fatigued driving countermeasures, studying human responses to automatic “crash avoidance” safety features in traffic, and a bunch of other stuff.

      As for what’s the big house “reform” demanded? It seems to be largely about dialing back fuel economy standards for cars, in exchange for manufacturers adding otherwise non-required safety features. Seems to be a political move calculated to put politicians on the spot with a gotcha question during election season… “Do you support safety or the environment, pick a side.”

  • avatar
    Whittaker

    When Dems spend less money they are being fiscally responsible.
    When Repubs spend less money they are just opposing Obama. Fiscal responsibility had nothing to do with it.

    Flip sides, rinse, repeat

    Assigning noble motives to your own side while impugning the motives of the other is a weak act.
    That hasn’t stopped it from being the main go-to in political debates, fueling a perpetual culture war that will not end well.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      Whittaker,
      Just more money is spent doesn’t equate to a better quality outcome.

      Read my comment below. You will see that much duplicaton occurs.

      I think those who oppose funding are those who want to protect unproductive practices. This is irrespective of what side of politics you are on.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      When Demoncrats spend less money, they are just expanding spending more slowly than they planned on expanding spending. When Republicans spend less money, they are just expanding spending less slowly than Demoncrats planned on expanding spending. The only difference is that Demoncrats never spend less money.

      • 0 avatar
        Erikstrawn

        Name calling is still name calling, no matter how clever you think it is. It cheapens your argument. Also, Republicans only worry about the budget when a Democrat’s in the White House.

  • avatar
    RideHeight

    Running the usual pig’s-ass-with-glasses photo of a Bible Belt Republican was knowingly incendiary given the numerous defenders of the Uppity Puppet always commenting here.

  • avatar
    jimmyy

    NHTSA tends to only force a recall on a Detroit product if the problem is so dangerous it can not be overlooked.

    NHTSA tends to force a recall on any Japanese product whenever it will smear that brand’s reputation.

    Of course, union loving Democrats love these politics so they want to throw more money at NHTSA so more damage can be done to the Japanese.

    What a joke.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    There is plenty of room to slash even further the waste of tax payer funded institutions like the NHTSA.

    There is much duplication of standards in the world, especially OECD economies. The US misuses the most money with duplication of standards. Most other nations work together more closely regarding the global harmonisation of vehicle standards.

    Why re-invent the wheel, are US standards better? They are not, this can be proven by the many studies in relation to vehicle safety. This is also why most nations are adopting the ECE model, it’s cheaper and the participating nations have input.

    Just look at the problem the Town and Country has given Thomas in Japan. Yet, Thomas was befuddled why red is not the best colour for a indicator (blinker). Amber denotes a precaution of an event to occur, even in the US. Red denotes an event is occuring. Not rocket science.

    Here’s an interesting link which shows how US vehicles standards are not as good as those used in the EU/Australia/NZ/Japan and on and on.

    http://www.worldhighways.com/sections/eurofile/features/spreading-knowledge-on-european-standards-beyond-europe/

    The World Highways site is an interesting site for those interested in what is occurring with global road infrastructure, some of it is amazing.

    • 0 avatar
      chris724

      Are you required to turn off your amber colored blinker, once you begin to make the turn? Also, who cares?

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        chris274,
        Generally, as in the US the indicator are self cancelling. We also have a feature you guys in the US would love. For lane changing and directional changes other than a corner we can flick the indicator stalk and it will indicate three times.

        As for the jist of your comment, maybe I should of expanded my comment a little further. Changing a vehicles direction or the use of hazards lights are cautionary, not involving a rapid change in the same direction as normally is the case with your tail light.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        chris,
        It is costing the US vehicle owner over 15 billion dollars a year to have “different” vehicles and regulations.

        I would care if I were you. It’s costing you guys money unnecessarily and lots of it.

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          @BAFO – Import automakers have been given a freebie by the US going either way on turn signals, red or amber. Still the vast majority of import or offshore based OEMs choose red turn signals and charge US consumers accordingly and needlessly.

          But we don’t exactly know if they’re eating the extra costs or passing them on to the consumer. Or eating all the costs of having the variances, for 2 sets of standards.

          Except it’s important to note US safety and emissions standards came first and obviously in good faith, followed by Europe, blatantly setting subtly differing standards, for obvious protectionism against US based, import cars. As if the outrages 10% to 22% tariff levied against US autos weren’t enough!

    • 0 avatar
      ptschett

      I’ll support separated amber rear turn signals when there’s also a corresponding requirement, and understanding among vehicle owners, that maintenance of the separated brake-only rear lamps is necessary. Too many times I’ve been behind cars that had fully-functional amber (or red) separated turn signals that also had at least one burnt-out brake lamp. And two burnt-out brake lamps – both the left and the right, with only the center lamp still functional – seems pretty common on certain GM products. In the US iteration of combined brake/turn lamps, the turn signal function blink rate changes with a failed lamp, automatically indicating to the driver that there is a problem and giving them an inducement to make a repair.

    • 0 avatar
      Nick Engineer

      “Amber denotes a precaution of an event to occur, even in the US. Red denotes an event is occuring. Not rocket science.”

      An automotive engineer I spoke with recently kept referring to the confusion that might arise from having the break and turn signal lights all red as is customary here in NA. Seeing an amber light even momentarily is unambiguous.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Good popcorn

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Mark – Both you and AN got it wrong, so I checked into it, including downloading NHTSA’s 210-page budget proposal. Here are the actual numbers:

    2015 Approved:
    NHTSA Total Budget = $830 million
    Portion for “Highway Safety Research and Development” = $138.5 million

    2016 Request:
    NHTSA Total Budget = $908 million
    Portion for “Highway Safety Research and Development” = $152.0 million

    Note that requested increase for the HSRD portion was only $13.5 million. This would have been a 10% increase.

    It was the Senate who boosted that increase to $46.3 million this summer. This would have been a 33% increase to this part of NHTSA’s budget.

    Now, the House is proposing a $31 million increase instead of the extravagant Senate increase. This is still MORE THAN DOUBLE the increase NHTSA asked for originally. This is a 22% increase.

    Sometimes, it helps to check original sources.

    So, B&B, let’s argue over whether a 33% increase makes us safer than a 22% increase, remembering that NHTSA only asked for a 10% increase to this part of their budget.

  • avatar
    PentastarPride

    The NHTSA is just one of those things a nonprofit can do. Spin it off and privatize it. The manufacturers voluntarily participate in the testing process and pay a testing fee (free market at work–manufacturers will be incentivized for participating as people will vote with their wallets). One less taxpayer-supported agency and less iron-fisted regulatory body. Repeat for FDA, CPSC and other federal regulatory bodies.

    We need cuts elsewhere in the Federal government. The NHTSA is merely just a water molecule in a 5-gallon bucket.

  • avatar
    highdesertcat

    “The NHTSA is merely just a water molecule in a 5-gallon bucket.”

    Regardless of administration in power, NHTSA has been a political tool and only applied to achieve an agenda item.

    The real work in safety R&D was done by Volvo, Daimler, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and later, Toyota and Honda over the decades past.

    Autobahn design was the blue-print for the US Interstate system during the Eisenhower administration. Seat belts and supplemental restraint systems were being developed and tested by Volvo and Mercedes way back in the sixties. Both long before NHTSA was someone’s wet dream.

    NHTSA is an extra layer of bureaucracy levied on the US taxpayers. There are a lot of US government agencies we, the people, could do without, and save a ton of money without them.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      On top of this, one could argue that consumer demand for vehicles with high scores on the IIHS crash tests is what drives most improvement in safety in the 21st century. IIHS tests and consumer demand make family cars structurally safer in a crash and then the NHTSA follows up with regulations.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        I agree with your observation. I’m a firm believe in letting the market place shake itself out to shape and hone itself in response to consumer tastes and demands.

  • avatar
    zip89105

    Oh well, the company car will have to stay in the company lot.

  • avatar
    ihatetrees

    Modest budget reductions for The Regulators are a good thing.
    That said, I’d like to see Congress Critters address the NHTSA’s role in the continued decline of visibility / glass area.

    • 0 avatar
      anomaly149

      To be honest, reducing NHSTA’s budget (or not increasing it by a fairly decent amount) is bad for the automakers. NHSTA is already far enough behind in terms of understanding modern auto technology, they need a serious jolt of cash to hope to come close to being able to competently regulate and police the tech coming out over the next ten years.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      This is only the dark times (no pun intended) before we discover transparisteel, aka the material every spaceship window in sci-fi is made out of. Then our cars will be greenhouses once again.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    I was going to dive into the discussion, but Mark Stevenson made my main point that reducing a proposed increase in spending is not a cut, and there’s no room for my humorous take on the topic when “politics” is being “discussed”. Maybe you should all go for a long drive?

  • avatar
    George B

    If anything, the mild reduction in the rate of increase in the NHTSA budget is less than the constituents of Michael Burgess would want. He represents TX-26 in Denton county that previously sent Richard Armey to Washington DC for 18 years. People here wonder why congress can’t do actual budget cuts where a budget item gets smaller instead of fake cuts that only reduce a planned increase.

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