NATIONAL SALVAGE MOTOR VEHICLE CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT OF 1997
(House of Representatives - November 04, 1997)

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[Pages H9907-H9914]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




     NATIONAL SALVAGE MOTOR VEHICLE CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT OF 1997

  Mr. BLILEY. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the 
bill (H.R. 1839) to establish nationally uniform requirements regarding 
the titling and registration of salvage, nonrepairable, and rebuilt 
vehicles, as amended.
  The Clerk read as follows:

                               H.R. 1839

       Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of 
     the United States of America in Congress assembled,

     SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

       This Act may be cited as the ``National Salvage Motor 
     Vehicle Consumer Protection Act of 1997''.

     SEC. 2. MOTOR VEHICLE TITLING AND DISCLOSURE REQUIREMENTS.

       (a) Amendment to Title 49, United States Code.--Subtitle VI 
     of title 49, United States Code, is amended by inserting a 
     new chapter at the end:

   ``CHAPTER 333--AUTOMOBILE SAFETY AND TITLE DISCLOSURE REQUIREMENTS

``Sec.
``33301. Definitions.
``33302. Passenger motor vehicle titling.
``33303. Disclosure and label requirements on transfer of rebuilt 
              salvage vehicles.
``33304. Report on funding.
``33305. Effect on State law.
``33306. Civil and criminal penalties.
``33307. Actions by States.
     ``Sec. 33301. Definitions
       ``(a) Definitions.--For the purposes of this chapter:
       ``(1) Passenger motor vehicle.--The term `passenger motor 
     vehicle' shall have the same meaning given such term by 
     section 32101(10), except, notwithstanding section 32101(9), 
     it shall include a multipurpose passenger vehicle 
     (constructed on a truck chassis or with special features for 
     occasional off-road operation), or a truck, other than a 
     truck referred to in section 32101(10)(B), when that vehicle 
     or truck is rated by the manufacturer of such vehicle or 
     truck at not more than 10,000 pounds gross vehicle weight, 
     and except further, it shall only include a vehicle 
     manufactured primarily for use on public streets, roads, and 
     highways.
       ``(2) Salvage vehicle.--The term `salvage vehicle' means 
     any passenger motor vehicle, other than a flood vehicle or a 
     nonrepairable vehicle, which--
       ``(A) is a late model vehicle which has been wrecked, 
     destroyed, or damaged, to the extent that the total cost of 
     repairs to rebuild or reconstruct the passenger motor vehicle 
     to its condition immediately before it was wrecked, 
     destroyed, or damaged, and for legal operation on the roads 
     or highways, exceeds 80 percent of the retail value of the 
     passenger motor vehicle;
       ``(B) is a late model vehicle which has been wrecked, 
     destroyed, or damaged, and to which an insurance company 
     acquires ownership pursuant to a damage settlement (except in 
     the case of a settlement in connection with a recovered 
     stolen vehicle, unless such vehicle sustained damage 
     sufficient to meet the damage threshold prescribed by 
     subparagraph (A)); or
       ``(C) the owner wishes to voluntarily designate as a 
     salvage vehicle by obtaining a salvage title, without regard 
     to the level of damage, age, or value of such vehicle or any 
     other factor, except that such designation by the owner 
     shall not impose on the insurer of the passenger motor 
     vehicle or on an insurer processing a claim made by or on 
     behalf of the owner of the passenger motor vehicle any 
     obligation or liability.
       ``(3) Salvage title.--The term `salvage title' means a 
     passenger motor vehicle ownership document issued by the 
     State to the owner of a salvage vehicle. A salvage title

[[Page H9908]]

     shall be conspicuously labeled with the word `salvage' across 
     the front.
       ``(4) Rebuilt salvage vehicle.--The term `rebuilt salvage 
     vehicle' means--
       ``(A) any passenger motor vehicle which was previously 
     issued a salvage title, has passed State anti-theft 
     inspection, has been issued a certificate indicating that the 
     passenger motor vehicle has passed the required anti-theft 
     inspection, has passed the State safety inspection in those 
     States requiring a safety inspection pursuant to section 
     33302(b)(8), has been issued a certificate indicating that 
     the passenger motor vehicle has passed the required safety 
     inspection in those States requiring such a safety inspection 
     pursuant to section 33302(b)(8), and has a decal stating 
     `Rebuilt Salvage Vehicle--Anti-theft and Safety Inspections 
     Passed' affixed to the driver's door jamb; or
       ``(B) any passenger motor vehicle which was previously 
     issued a salvage title, has passed a State anti-theft 
     inspection, has been issued a certificate indicating that the 
     passenger motor vehicle has passed the required anti-theft 
     inspection, and has, affixed to the driver's door jamb, a 
     decal stating `Rebuilt Salvage Vehicle--Anti-theft Inspection 
     Passed/No Safety Inspection Pursuant to National Criteria' in 
     those States not requiring a safety inspection pursuant to 
     section 33302(b)(8).
       ``(5) Rebuilt salvage title.--The term `rebuilt salvage 
     title' means the passenger motor vehicle ownership document 
     issued by the State to the owner of a rebuilt salvage 
     vehicle. A rebuilt salvage title shall be conspicuously 
     labeled either with the words `Rebuilt Salvage Vehicle--Anti-
     theft and Safety Inspections Passed' or `Rebuilt Salvage 
     Vehicle--Anti-theft Inspection Passed/No Safety Inspection 
     Pursuant to National Criteria,' as appropriate, across the 
     front.
       ``(6) Nonrepairable vehicle.--The term `nonrepairable 
     vehicle' means any passenger motor vehicle, other than a 
     flood vehicle, which is incapable of safe operation for use 
     on roads or highways and which has no resale value except as 
     a source of parts or scrap only or which the owner 
     irreversibly designates as a source of parts or scrap. Such 
     passenger motor vehicle shall be issued a nonrepairable 
     vehicle certificate and shall never again be titled or 
     registered.
       ``(7) Nonrepairable vehicle certificate.--The term 
     `nonrepairable vehicle certificate' means a passenger motor 
     vehicle ownership document issued by the State to the owner 
     of a nonrepairable vehicle. A nonrepairable vehicle 
     certificate shall be conspicuously labeled with the word 
     `Nonrepairable' across the front.
       ``(8) Secretary.--The term `Secretary' means the Secretary 
     of Transportation.
       ``(9) Late model vehicle.--The term `Late Model Vehicle' 
     means any passenger motor vehicle which--
       ``(A) has a manufacturer's model year designation of or 
     later than the year in which the vehicle was wrecked, 
     destroyed, or damaged, or any of the six preceding years; or
       ``(B) has a retail value of more than $7,500.

     The Secretary shall adjust such retail value on an annual 
     basis in accordance with changes in the consumer price index.
       ``(10) Retail value.--The term `retail value' means the 
     actual cash value, fair market value, or retail value of a 
     passenger motor vehicle as--
       ``(A) set forth in a current edition of any nationally 
     recognized compilation (to include automated databases) of 
     retail values; or
       ``(B) determined pursuant to a market survey of comparable 
     vehicles with regard to condition and equipment.
       ``(11) Cost of repairs.--The term `cost of repairs' means 
     the estimated retail cost of parts needed to repair the 
     vehicle or, if the vehicle has been repaired, the actual 
     retail cost of the parts used in the repair, and the cost of 
     labor computed by using the hourly labor rate and time 
     allocations that are reasonable and customary in the 
     automobile repair industry in the community where the repairs 
     are to be performed.
       ``(12) Flood vehicle.--The term `flood vehicle' means any 
     passenger motor vehicle that--
       ``(A) has been acquired by an insurance company as part of 
     a damage settlement due to water damage; or
       ``(B) has been submerged in water to the point that rising 
     water has reached over the door sill, has entered the 
     passenger or trunk compartment, and has exposed any 
     electrical, computerized, or mechanical component to water, 
     except--
       ``(i) where a passenger motor vehicle which, pursuant to an 
     inspection conducted by an insurance adjuster or estimator, a 
     motor vehicle repairer or motor vehicle dealer in accordance 
     with inspection guidelines or procedures established by the 
     Secretary or the State, is determined to have no electrical, 
     computerized or mechanical components which were damaged by 
     water; or,
       ``(ii) where a passenger motor vehicle which, pursuant to 
     an inspection conducted by an insurance adjuster or 
     estimator, a motor vehicle repairer or motor vehicle dealer 
     in accordance with inspection guidelines or procedures 
     established by the Secretary or the State, is determined to 
     have one or more electrical, computerized or mechanical 
     components which were damaged by water and where all such 
     damaged components have been repaired or replaced.

     Disclosure that a vehicle is a flood vehicle must be made at 
     the time of transfer of ownership and the brand `Flood' shall 
     be conspicuously marked on all subsequent titles for the 
     vehicle. No inspection shall be required unless the owner or 
     insurer of the passenger motor vehicle is seeking to avoid a 
     brand of `Flood' pursuant to subparagraph (B). Disclosing a 
     passenger motor vehicle's status as a flood vehicle or 
     conducting an inspection pursuant to subparagraph (B) shall 
     not impose on any person any liability for damage to (except 
     in the case of damage caused by the inspector at the time of 
     the inspection) or reduced value of a passenger motor 
     vehicle.
       ``(b) Construction.--The definitions set forth in 
     subsection (a) shall only apply to vehicles in a State which 
     are wrecked, destroyed, or otherwise damaged on or after the 
     date on which such State complies with the requirements of 
     this chapter and the rule promulgated pursuant to section 
     33302(b).

     ``Sec. 33302. Passenger motor vehicle titling

       ``(a) Carry-Forward of Information on a Newly Issued Title 
     Where the Previous Title for the Vehicle Was Not Issued 
     Pursuant to New Nationally Uniform Standards.--For any 
     passenger motor vehicle, the ownership of which is 
     transferred on or after the date that is 1 year from the date 
     of the enactment of this chapter, each State receiving funds, 
     either directly or indirectly, appropriated under section 
     30503(c) of this title after fiscal year 1998, in licensing 
     such vehicle for use, shall disclose in writing on the 
     certificate of title whenever records readily accessible to 
     the State indicate that the passenger motor vehicle was 
     previously issued a title that bore any word or symbol 
     signifying that the vehicle was `salvage', `unrebuildable', 
     `parts only', `scrap', `junk', `nonrepairable', 
     `reconstructed', `rebuilt', or any other symbol or word of 
     like kind, or that it has been damaged by flood.
       ``(b) Nationally Uniform Title Standards and Control 
     Methods.--Not later than 18 months after the date of the 
     enactment of this chapter, the Secretary shall by rule 
     require each State receiving funds, either directly or 
     indirectly, appropriated under section 30503(c) of this title 
     after fiscal year 1998, in licensing any passenger motor 
     vehicle where ownership of such passenger motor vehicle is 
     transferred more than 2 years after publication of such final 
     rule, to apply uniform standards, procedures, and methods for 
     the issuance and control of titles for motor vehicles and for 
     information to be contained on such titles. Such titling 
     standards, control procedures, methods, and information shall 
     include the following requirements:
       ``(1) A State shall conspicuously indicate on the face of 
     the title or certificate for a passenger motor vehicle, as 
     applicable, if the passenger motor vehicle is a salvage 
     vehicle, a nonrepairable vehicle, a rebuilt salvage vehicle, 
     or a flood vehicle.
       ``(2) Such information concerning a passenger motor 
     vehicle's status shall be conveyed on any subsequent title, 
     including a duplicate or replacement title, for the passenger 
     motor vehicle issued by the original titling State or any 
     other State.
       ``(3) The title documents, the certificates, and decals 
     required by section 33301(4), and the issuing system shall 
     meet security standards minimizing the opportunities for 
     fraud.
       ``(4) The certificate of title shall include the passenger 
     motor vehicle make, model, body type, year, odometer 
     disclosure, and vehicle identification number.
       ``(5) The title documents shall maintain a uniform layout, 
     to be established in consultation with the States or an 
     organization representing them.
       ``(6) A passenger motor vehicle designated as nonrepairable 
     shall be issued a nonrepairable vehicle certificate and shall 
     not be retitled.
       ``(7) No rebuilt salvage title shall be issued to a salvage 
     vehicle unless, after the salvage vehicle is repaired or 
     rebuilt, it complies with the requirements for a rebuilt 
     salvage vehicle pursuant to section 33301(4). Any State 
     inspection program operating under this paragraph shall be 
     subject to continuing review by and approval of the 
     Secretary. Any such anti-theft inspection program shall 
     include the following:
       ``(A) A requirement that the owner of any passenger motor 
     vehicle submitting such vehicle for an anti-theft inspection 
     provide a completed document identifying the vehicle's damage 
     prior to being repaired, a list of replacement parts used to 
     repair the vehicle, and proof of ownership of such 
     replacement parts, as may be evidenced by bills of sale, 
     invoices, or, if such documents are not available, other 
     proof of ownership for the replacement parts. The owner shall 
     also include an affirmation that the information in the 
     declaration is complete and accurate and that, to the 
     knowledge of the declarant, no stolen parts were used during 
     the rebuilding.
       ``(B) A requirement to inspect the passenger motor vehicle 
     or any major part or any major replacement part required to 
     be marked under section 33102 for signs of such mark or 
     vehicle identification number being illegally altered, 
     defaced, or falsified. Any such passenger motor vehicle or 
     any such part having a mark or vehicle identification number 
     that has been illegally altered, defaced, or falsified, and 
     that cannot be identified as having been legally obtained 
     (through bills of sale, invoices, or other ownership 
     documentation), shall be contraband and subject to seizure. 
     The Secretary, in consultation with the Attorney General, 
     shall, as part of the rule required by this section, 
     establish procedures for dealing with those parts whose mark 
     or vehicle identification number is normally removed during 
     industry

[[Page H9909]]

     accepted remanufacturing or rebuilding practices, which parts 
     shall be deemed identified for purposes of this section if 
     they bear a conspicuous mark of a type, and applied in such a 
     manner, as designated by the Secretary, indicating that they 
     have been rebuilt or remanufactured. With respect to any 
     vehicle part, the Secretary's rule, as required by this 
     section, shall acknowledge that a mark or vehicle 
     identification number on such part may be legally removed or 
     altered as provided for in section 511 of title 18, United 
     States Code, and shall direct inspectors to adopt such 
     procedures as may be necessary to prevent the seizure of a 
     part from which the mark or vehicle identification number has 
     been legally removed or altered.
       ``(8) Any safety inspection for a rebuilt salvage vehicle 
     performed pursuant to this chapter shall be performed in 
     accordance with nationally uniform safety inspection criteria 
     established by the Secretary. A State may determine whether 
     to conduct such safety inspection itself, contract with one 
     or more third parties, or permit self-inspection by a person 
     licensed by such State in an automotive-related business, all 
     subject to criteria promulgated by the Secretary hereunder. 
     Any State inspection program operating under this paragraph 
     shall be subject to continuing review by and approval of the 
     Secretary. A State requiring such safety inspection may 
     require the payment of a fee for the privilege of such 
     inspection or the processing thereof.
       ``(9) No duplicate or replacement title shall be issued 
     unless the word `duplicate' is clearly marked on the face 
     thereof and unless the procedures for such issuance are 
     substantially consistent with Recommendation three of the 
     Motor Vehicle Titling, Registration and Salvage Advisory 
     Committee.
       ``(10) A State shall employ the following titling and 
     control methods:
       ``(A) If an insurance company is not involved in a damage 
     settlement involving a salvage vehicle or a nonrepairable 
     vehicle, the passenger motor vehicle owner shall apply for a 
     salvage title or nonrepairable vehicle certificate, whichever 
     is applicable, before the passenger motor vehicle is repaired 
     or the ownership of the passenger motor vehicle is 
     transferred, but in any event within 30 days after the 
     passenger motor vehicle is damaged.
       ``(B) If an insurance company, pursuant to a damage 
     settlement, acquires ownership of a passenger motor vehicle 
     that has incurred damage requiring the vehicle to be titled 
     as a salvage vehicle or nonrepairable vehicle, the insurance 
     company or salvage facility or other agent on its behalf 
     shall apply for a salvage title or nonrepairable vehicle 
     certificate within 30 days after the title is properly 
     assigned by the owner to the insurance company and delivered 
     to the insurance company or salvage facility or other agent 
     on its behalf with all liens released.
       ``(C) If an insurance company does not assume ownership of 
     an insured's or claimant's passenger motor vehicle that has 
     incurred damage requiring the vehicle to be titled as a 
     salvage vehicle or nonrepairable vehicle, the insurance 
     company shall notify the owner of the owner's obligation to 
     apply for a salvage title or nonrepairable vehicle 
     certificate for the passenger motor vehicle and notify the 
     State passenger motor vehicle titling office that a salvage 
     title or nonrepairable vehicle certificate should be issued 
     for the vehicle, except to the extent such notification is 
     prohibited by State insurance law.
       ``(D) If a leased passenger motor vehicle incurs damage 
     requiring the vehicle to be titled as a salvage vehicle or 
     nonrepairable vehicle, the lessor shall apply for a salvage 
     title or nonrepairable vehicle certificate within 21 days 
     after being notified by the lessee that the vehicle has been 
     so damaged, except when an insurance company, pursuant to a 
     damage settlement, acquires ownership of the vehicle. The 
     lessee of such vehicle shall inform the lessor that the 
     leased vehicle has been so damaged within 30 days after the 
     occurrence of the damage.
       ``(E) Any person acquiring ownership of a damaged passenger 
     motor vehicle that meets the definition of a salvage or 
     nonrepairable vehicle for which a salvage title or 
     nonrepairable vehicle certificate has not been issued, shall 
     apply for a salvage title or nonrepairable vehicle 
     certificate, whichever is applicable. This application shall 
     be made before the vehicle is further transferred, but in any 
     event, within 30 days after ownership is acquired. The 
     requirements of this subparagraph shall not apply to any 
     scrap metal processor which acquires a passenger motor 
     vehicle for the sole purpose of processing it into prepared 
     grades of scrap and which so processes such vehicle.
       ``(F) State records shall note when a nonrepairable vehicle 
     certificate is issued. No State shall issue a nonrepairable 
     vehicle certificate after 2 transfers of ownership.
       ``(G) When a passenger motor vehicle has been flattened, 
     baled, or shredded, whichever comes first, the title or 
     nonrepairable vehicle certificate for the vehicle shall be 
     surrendered to the State within 30 days. If the second 
     transferee on a nonrepairable vehicle certificate is 
     unequipped to flatten, bale, or shred the vehicle, such 
     transferee shall, at the time of final disposal of the 
     vehicle, use the services of a professional automotive 
     recycler or professional scrap processor who is hereby 
     authorized to flatten, bale, or shred the vehicle and to 
     effect the surrender of the nonrepairable vehicle certificate 
     to the State on behalf of such second transferee. State 
     records shall be updated to indicate the destruction of such 
     vehicle and no further ownership transactions for the vehicle 
     will be permitted. If different than the State of origin of 
     the title or nonrepairable vehicle certificate, the State of 
     surrender shall notify the State of origin of the surrender 
     of the title or nonrepairable vehicle certificate and of the 
     destruction of such vehicle.
       ``(H) When a salvage title is issued, the State records 
     shall so note. No State shall permit the retitling for 
     registration purposes or issuance of a rebuilt salvage title 
     for a passenger motor vehicle with a salvage title without a 
     certificate of inspection, which complies with the security 
     and guideline standards established by the Secretary pursuant 
     to paragraphs (3), (7), and (8), as applicable, indicating 
     that the vehicle has passed the inspections required by the 
     State. This subparagraph does not preclude the issuance of a 
     new salvage title for a salvage vehicle after a transfer of 
     ownership.
       ``(I) After a passenger motor vehicle titled with a salvage 
     title has passed the inspections required by the State, the 
     inspection official will affix the secure decal required 
     pursuant to section 33301(4) to the driver's door jamb of the 
     vehicle and issue to the owner of the vehicle a certificate 
     indicating that the passenger motor vehicle has passed the 
     inspections required by the State. The decal shall comply 
     with the permanency requirements established by the 
     Secretary.
       ``(J) The owner of a passenger motor vehicle titled with a 
     salvage title may obtain a rebuilt salvage title or vehicle 
     registration, or both, by presenting to the State the salvage 
     title, properly assigned, if applicable, along with the 
     certificate that the vehicle has passed the inspections 
     required by the State. With such proper documentation and 
     upon request, a rebuilt salvage title or registration, or 
     both, shall be issued to the owner. When a rebuilt salvage 
     title is issued, the State records shall so note.
       ``(11) A seller of a passenger motor vehicle that becomes a 
     flood vehicle shall, at or prior to the time of transfer of 
     ownership, give the buyer a written notice that the vehicle 
     has been damaged by flood, provided such person has actual 
     knowledge that such vehicle has been damaged by flood. At the 
     time of the next title application for the vehicle, 
     disclosure of the flood status shall be provided to the 
     applicable State with the properly assigned title and the 
     word `Flood' shall be conspicuously labeled across the front 
     of the new title.
       ``(12) In the case of a leased passenger motor vehicle, the 
     lessee, within 15 days of the occurrence of the event that 
     caused the vehicle to become a flood vehicle, shall give the 
     lessor written disclosure that the vehicle is a flood 
     vehicle.
       ``(13) Ownership of a passenger motor vehicle may be 
     transferred on a salvage title, however, a passenger motor 
     vehicle for which a salvage title has been issued shall not 
     be registered for use on the roads or highways unless it has 
     been issued a rebuilt salvage title.
       ``(14) Ownership of a passenger motor vehicle may be 
     transferred on a rebuilt salvage title, and a passenger motor 
     vehicle for which a rebuilt salvage title has been issued may 
     be registered for use on the roads and highways.
       ``(15) Ownership of a passenger motor vehicle may only be 
     transferred 2 times on a nonrepairable vehicle certificate. A 
     passenger motor vehicle for which a nonrepairable vehicle 
     certificate has been issued can never be titled or registered 
     for use on roads or highways.
       ``(c) Consumer Notice in Noncompliant States.--Any State 
     receiving, either directly or indirectly, funds appropriated 
     under section 30503(c) of this title after fiscal year 1998 
     and not complying with the requirements of subsections (a) 
     and (b) of this section, shall conspicuously print the 
     following notice on all titles or ownership certificates 
     issued for passenger motor vehicles in such State until such 
     time as such State is in compliance with the requirements of 
     subsections (a) and (b) of this section: `NOTICE: This State 
     does not conform to the uniform Federal requirements of the 
     National Salvage Motor Vehicle Consumer Protection Act of 
     1997.'.

     ``Sec. 33303. Disclosure and label requirements on transfer 
       of rebuilt salvage vehicles

       ``(a) Written Disclosure Requirements.--
       ``(1) General rule.--Under regulations prescribed by the 
     Secretary of Transportation, a person transferring ownership 
     of a rebuilt salvage vehicle shall give the transferee a 
     written disclosure that the vehicle is a rebuilt salvage 
     vehicle when such person has actual knowledge of the status 
     of such vehicle.
       ``(2) False statement.--A person making a written 
     disclosure required by a regulation prescribed under 
     paragraph (1) of this subsection may not make a false 
     statement in the disclosure.
       ``(3) Completeness.--A person acquiring a rebuilt salvage 
     vehicle for resale may accept a disclosure under paragraph 
     (1) only if it is complete.
       ``(4) Regulations.--The regulations prescribed by the 
     Secretary shall provide the way in which information is 
     disclosed and retained under paragraph (1).
       ``(b) Label Requirements.--
       ``(1) In general.--The Secretary shall by regulation 
     require that a label be affixed to the windshield or window 
     of a rebuilt salvage vehicle before its first sale at retail 
     containing such information regarding that vehicle as the 
     Secretary may require. The label shall be affixed by the 
     individual who conducts the

[[Page H9910]]

     applicable State antitheft inspection in a participating 
     State.
       ``(2) Removal, alteration, or illegibility of required 
     label.--No person shall willfully remove, alter, or render 
     illegible any label required by paragraph (1) affixed to a 
     rebuilt salvage vehicle before the vehicle is delivered to 
     the actual custody and possession of the first retail 
     purchaser.
       ``(c) Limitation.--The requirements of subsections (a) and 
     (b) shall only apply to a transfer of ownership of a rebuilt 
     salvage vehicle where such transfer occurs in a State which, 
     at the time of the transfer, is complying with subsections 
     (a) and (b) of section 33302.

     ``Sec. 33304. Report on funding

       ``The Secretary shall, contemporaneously with the issuance 
     of a final rule pursuant to section 33302(b), report to 
     appropriate committees of Congress whether the costs to the 
     States of compliance with such rule can be met by user fees 
     for issuance of titles, issuance of registrations, issuance 
     of duplicate titles, inspection of rebuilt vehicles, or for 
     the State services, or by earmarking any moneys collected 
     through law enforcement action to enforce requirements 
     established by such rule.

     ``Sec. 33305. Effect on State law

       ``(a) In General.--Unless a State is in compliance with 
     subsection (c) of section 33302, effective on the date the 
     rule promulgated pursuant to section 33302 becomes effective, 
     the provisions of this chapter shall preempt all State laws 
     in States receiving funds, either directly or indirectly, 
     appropriated under section 30503(c) of this title after 
     fiscal year 1998, to the extent they are inconsistent with 
     the provisions of this chapter or the rule promulgated 
     pursuant to section 33302, which--
       ``(1) set forth the form of the passenger motor vehicle 
     title;
       ``(2) define, in connection with a passenger motor vehicle 
     (but not in connection with a passenger motor vehicle part or 
     part assembly separate from a passenger motor vehicle), any 
     term defined in section 33301 or the terms `salvage', `junk', 
     `reconstructed', `nonrepairable', `unrebuildable', `scrap', 
     `parts only', `rebuilt', `flood', or any other symbol or word 
     of like kind, or apply any of those terms to any passenger 
     motor vehicle (but not to a passenger motor vehicle part or 
     part assembly separate from a passenger motor vehicle); or
       ``(3) set forth titling, recordkeeping, anti-theft 
     inspection, or control procedures in connection with any 
     salvage vehicle, rebuilt salvage vehicle, nonrepairable 
     vehicle, or flood vehicle.

     The requirements described in paragraph (3) shall not be 
     construed to affect any State consumer law actions that may 
     be available to residents of the State for violations of this 
     chapter.
       ``(b) Construction.--Additional disclosures of a passenger 
     motor vehicle's title status or history, in addition to the 
     terms defined in section 33301, shall not be deemed 
     inconsistent with the provisions of this chapter. Such 
     disclosures shall include disclosures made on a certificate 
     of title. When used in connection with a passenger motor 
     vehicle (but not in connection with a passenger motor vehicle 
     part or part assembly separate from a passenger motor 
     vehicle), any definition of a term defined in section 33301 
     which is different than the definition in that section or any 
     use of any term listed in subsection (a), but not defined in 
     section 33301, shall be deemed inconsistent with the 
     provisions of this chapter. Nothing in this chapter shall 
     preclude a State from disclosing on a rebuilt salvage title 
     that a rebuilt salvage vehicle has passed a State safety 
     inspection which differed from the nationally uniform 
     criteria to be promulgated pursuant to section 33302(b)(8).

     ``Sec. 33306. Civil and criminal penalties

       ``(a) Prohibited Acts.--It shall be unlawful for any person 
     knowingly and willfully to--
       ``(1) make or cause to be made any false statement on an 
     application for a title (or duplicate title) for a passenger 
     motor vehicle or any disclosure made pursuant to section 
     33303;
       ``(2) fail to apply for a salvage title when such an 
     application is required;
       ``(3) alter, forge, or counterfeit a certificate of title 
     (or an assignment thereof), a nonrepairable vehicle 
     certificate, a certificate verifying an anti-theft inspection 
     or an anti-theft and safety inspection, a decal affixed to a 
     passenger motor vehicle pursuant to section 33302(b)(10)(I), 
     or any disclosure made pursuant to section 33303;
       ``(4) falsify the results of, or provide false information 
     in the course of, an inspection conducted pursuant to section 
     33302(b)(7) or (8);
       ``(5) offer to sell any salvage vehicle or nonrepairable 
     vehicle as a rebuilt salvage vehicle;
       ``(6) fail to make any disclosure required by section 
     33303, except when the person lacks actual knowledge of the 
     status of the rebuilt salvage vehicle;
       ``(7) violate a regulation prescribed under this chapter; 
     or
       ``(8) conspire to commit any of the acts enumerated in 
     paragraph (1), (2), (3), (4), (5), (6), or (7).
       ``(b) Civil Penalty.--Any person who commits an unlawful 
     act as provided in subsection (a) of this section shall be 
     fined a civil penalty of up to $2,000 per offense. A separate 
     violation occurs for each passenger motor vehicle involved in 
     the violation.
       ``(c) Criminal Penalty.--Any person who commits an unlawful 
     act as provided in subsection (a) of this section shall be 
     fined up to $50,000 or sentenced to up to 3 years 
     imprisonment or both, per offense.

     ``Sec. 33307. Actions by States

       ``(a) In General.--Whenever an attorney general of any 
     State has reason to believe that the interests of the 
     residents of that State have been or are being threatened or 
     adversely affected because any person has violated or is 
     violating section 33302 or 33303, the State, as parens 
     patriae, may bring a civil action on behalf of its residents 
     in an appropriate district court of the United States or the 
     appropriate State court to enjoin such violation or to 
     enforce the civil penalties under section 33306 or enforce 
     the criminal penalties under section 33306.
       ``(b) Notice.--The State shall serve prior written notice 
     of any civil or criminal action under subsection (a) or 
     (e)(2) upon the Attorney General and provide the Attorney 
     General with a copy of its complaint, except that if it is 
     not feasible for the State to provide such prior notice, the 
     State shall serve such notice immediately upon instituting 
     such action. Upon receiving a notice respecting a civil or 
     criminal action, the Attorney General shall have the right--
       ``(1) to intervene in such action;
       ``(2) upon so intervening, to be heard on all matters 
     arising therein; and
       ``(3) to file petitions for appeal.
       ``(c) Construction.--For purposes of bringing any civil or 
     criminal action under subsection (a), nothing in this Act 
     shall prevent an attorney general from exercising the powers 
     conferred on the attorney general by the laws of such State 
     to conduct investigations or to administer oaths or 
     affirmations or to compel the attendance of witnesses or 
     the production of documentary and other evidence.
       ``(d) Venue; Service of Process.--Any civil or criminal 
     action brought under subsection (a) in a district court of 
     the United States may be brought in the district in which the 
     defendant is found, is an inhabitant, or transacts business 
     or wherever venue is proper under section 1391 of title 28, 
     United States Code. Process in such an action may be served 
     in any district in which the defendant is an inhabitant or in 
     which the defendant may be found.
       ``(e) Actions by State Officials.--
       ``(1) Nothing contained in this section shall prohibit an 
     attorney general of a State or other authorized State 
     official from proceeding in State court on the basis of an 
     alleged violation of any civil or criminal statute of such 
     State.
       ``(2) In addition to actions brought by an attorney general 
     of a State under subsection (a), such an action may be 
     brought by officers of such State who are authorized by the 
     State to bring actions in such State on behalf of its 
     residents.''.
       (b) Conforming Amendment.--The table of chapters for part C 
     at the beginning of subtitle VI of title 49, United States 
     Code, is amended by inserting at the end the following new 
     item:

``333. AUTOMOBILE SAFETY AND TITLE DISCLOSURE REQUIREMENTS.....33301''.

     SEC. 3. AMENDMENTS TO CHAPTER 305.

       (a) Definitions.--
       (1) Amend section 30501(4) of title 49, United States Code, 
     to read as follows:
       ``(4) `nonrepairable vehicle', `salvage vehicle', and 
     `rebuilt salvage vehicle' shall have the same meanings given 
     those terms in section 33301 of this title.''.
       (2) Amend section 30501(5) of title 49, United States Code, 
     by striking ``junk automobiles'' and inserting 
     ``nonrepairable vehicles''.
       (3) Amend section 30501(8) by striking ``salvage 
     automobiles'' and inserting ``salvage vehicles''.
       (4) Strike paragraph (7) of section 30501 of title 49, 
     United States Code, and renumber the succeeding sections 
     accordingly.
       (b) National Motor Vehicle Title Information System.--
       (1) Amend section 30502(d)(3) of title 49, United States 
     Code, to read as follows:
       ``(3) whether an automobile known to be titled in a 
     particular State is or has been a nonrepairable vehicle, a 
     rebuilt salvage vehicle, or a salvage vehicle;''.
       (2) Amend section 30502(d)(5) of title 49, United States 
     Code, to read as follows:
       ``(5) whether an automobile bearing a known vehicle 
     identification number has been reported as a nonrepairable 
     vehicle, a rebuilt salvage vehicle, or a salvage vehicle 
     under section 30504 of this title.''.
       (c) State Participation.--Amend section 30503 of title 49, 
     United States Code, to read as follows:

     ``Sec. 30503. State participation

       ``(a) State Information.--Each State receiving funds 
     appropriated under subsection (c) shall make titling 
     information maintained by that State available for use in 
     operating the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System 
     established or designated under section 30502 of this title.
       ``(b) Verification Checks.--Each State receiving funds 
     appropriated under subsection (c) shall establish a practice 
     of performing an instant title verification check before 
     issuing a certificate of title to an individual or entity 
     claiming to have purchased an automobile from an individual 
     or entity in another State. The check shall consist of--
       ``(1) communicating to the operator--
       ``(A) the vehicle identification number of the automobile 
     for which the certificate of title is sought;

[[Page H9911]]

       ``(B) the name of the State that issued the most recent 
     certificate of title for the automobile; and
       ``(C) the name of the individual or entity to whom the 
     certificate of title was issued; and
       ``(2) giving the operator an opportunity to communicate to 
     the participating State the results of a search of the 
     information.
       ``(c) Grants to States.--
       ``(1) In cooperation with the States and not later than 
     January 1, 1994, the Attorney General shall--
       ``(A) conduct a review of systems used by the States to 
     compile and maintain information about the titling of 
     automobiles; and
       ``(B) determine for each State the cost of making titling 
     information maintained by that State available to the 
     operator to meet the requirements of section 30502(d) of this 
     title.
       ``(2) The Attorney General may make reasonable and 
     necessary grants to participating States to be used in making 
     titling information maintained by those States available to 
     the operator.
       ``(d) Report to Congress.--Not later than October 1, 1998, 
     the Attorney General shall report to Congress on which States 
     have met the requirements of this section. If a State has not 
     met the requirements, the Attorney General shall describe the 
     impediments that have resulted in the State's failure to meet 
     the requirements.''.
       (d) Reporting Requirements.--Section 30504 of title 49, 
     United States Code, is amended by striking ``junk automobiles 
     or salvage automobiles'' every place it appears and inserting 
     ``nonrepairable vehicles, rebuilt salvage vehicles, or 
     salvage vehicles''.

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from 
Virginia [Mr. Bliley] and the gentleman from Massachusetts [Mr. Markey] 
each will control 20 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Virginia [Mr. Bliley].


                             General Leave

  Mr. BLILEY. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may 
have 5 legislative days within which to revise and extend their remarks 
and include extraneous material on H.R. 1839.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentleman from Virginia?
  There was no objection.
  Mr. BLILEY. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, today I rise in strong support of H.R. 1839, the 
National Salvage Motor Vehicle Consumer Protection Act. Ever since my 
constituent Dick Strauss, a car dealer in Richmond, VA, first came to 
me to describe this problem several years ago, I have consistently 
supported the adoption of uniform definitions for salvage automobiles. 
It is an important protection for consumers, dealers, and insurers 
alike to prevent theft and to protect used car customers.
  Frequently auto dealers will make every effort to ensure that the 
used cars on their lots are of the highest quality. Unfortunately, 
increasingly sophisticated scam artists are using the differences in 
State automobile titling schemes to swindle both consumers and 
legitimate businesspeople. We read about the problem in our local 
papers, even in the comics. I am reminded of a recent series in the 
Judge Parker comic strip about a young lady who discovered she had 
unknowingly purchased a vehicle that had been totaled in an accident. 
We have an obligation to protect real consumers from the same fate.
  H.R. 1839 goes a long way toward achieving that goal. Supported by a 
coalition of business groups and the States, this bill implements many 
of the recommendations of a national panel of experts representing the 
States, law enforcement and business asking for Federal legislation to 
establish uniform definitions and procedures for the titling and 
registration of vehicles totaled by accident or flood. When enacted, 
H.R. 1839 will ensure that consumers have better access to information 
about the cars that they intend to purchase and that honest dealers can 
sell used cars without the worry that they may unwittingly be selling a 
stolen or totaled car.
  The bill before the House today makes several changes to the bill 
reported by the Committee on Commerce. At the request of the States and 
the Committee on the Judiciary, we reexamined a provision in the 
committee reported bill which tied participation in the National Motor 
Vehicle Title Information System to the adoption of the standards in 
H.R. 1839. After extensive discussions with State motor vehicle 
administrators and others, we agreed that an approach using the 
incentive of an existing Federal grant program would address the 
concerns of State motor vehicle and law enforcement officials while at 
the same time significantly improving participation in the program.
  The bill as amended eliminates the prohibition on participation in 
the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System which concerns 
State and Federal officials. However, the bill stipulates that if a 
State receives grant funding to upgrade its motor vehicle titling 
systems, it must either adopt the standards and procedures described in 
H.R. 1839 or print a notice on the face of each of its titles that it 
does not comply with the consumer protections required by this 
legislation. We believe that this change will encourage even more 
States to participate than CBO originally projected.
  The legislation before the House today also improves the definition 
of ``flood vehicle'' provided in the bill as introduced. After the 
Midwest floods over the past few years, it was clear that a more 
precise definition of this term is needed. I was happy to see that the 
salvage operators, insurers, and automobile dealers worked together to 
address this problem.
  Mr. Speaker, H.R. 1839 is legislation which protects consumers by 
striking a balance. It vastly improves the status quo by giving 
consumers, dealers and State officials notice about the status of 
vehicles that have been totaled by accident or flood. Today the 
patchwork of 50 different State laws ensures that no State can 
adequately protect its own citizens. This bill changes that situation. 
For that reason I strongly support its passage.
  In closing, I want to recognize the gentleman from Washington [Mr. 
White] for all the hard work and his willingness to try to work with 
the interested groups for a solution to the problem. I would also like 
to thank the gentleman from Illinois [Mr. Hyde] and the gentleman from 
Florida [Mr. McCollum] for their willingness to work with the Committee 
on Commerce to bring this legislation forward. I urge all my colleagues 
to support the bill.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. MARKEY. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, I rise with significant concerns about the bill before 
us this afternoon. This legislation is opposed by the Center for Auto 
Safety, the Consumer Federation of America, the Consumers for Auto 
Reliability and Safety, U.S. PIRG, the National Association of Consumer 
Advocates, Public Citizen and the Consumers Union.
  I believe the author of this legislation commenced with very noble 
intentions, but was forced into a rather elliptical legislative scheme 
to induce State actions for fear of triggering an unfunded mandates 
claim. As a result, this legislation ultimately does not require States 
to do much of anything to protect consumer safety. There are no 
mandatory safety inspections in the bill. Safety inspections are 
optional.
  Moreover, this bill may unwittingly lead to greater consumer 
confusion about the condition of used cars because States will 
undoubtedly have various requirements for consumer disclosure from 
coast to coast.
  In addition, the bill may force States to rewrite better consumer 
protection laws in which the terms ``rebuilt salvage vehicle'' or 
``salvage vehicle'' now appear. It would prevent States from using a 
damage threshold of under 80 percent, which is higher than a number of 
States' laws, and higher than the recommendations from the Nation's 
attorneys general and a special task force that delved into these 
issues in depth.
  Second, I continue to have concerns that the definition in the bill 
of a ``late model vehicle'' is overly narrow. This legislation would 
exempt sellers of cars over 6 model years old and worth less than 
$7,500 from having to disclose any accident damage. My car, my 
beautiful Buick Park Avenue, is 7 years old. It only has 42,000 miles 
on it. If I had a major accident, I would not have to disclose that, 
even though I could represent that it only had 42,000 miles, looked 
like it was in good condition. The average car on the road these days 
is close to 8 years old. The Department of Transportation tells us 
that. So we are potentially exempting a very large fleet of automobiles 
from the provisions in the bill.

[[Page H9912]]

  Third, the legislation does not include a private right of action for 
aggrieved consumers. I believe that a private right of action ought to 
be included in the bill so that individuals can act without having to 
wait for a State attorney general to take action.
  Again, this legislation is opposed by the Center for Auto Safety, the 
Consumer Federation of America, and all the rest of the groups that I 
mentioned. I would hope that before the legislative process is over, 
the bill will be adjusted so that consumer groups will support what is 
ostensibly being done on their behalf.
  I do believe that we will still have an opportunity in the other body 
and in conference with the Senate to further improve the bill. I want 
to thank the gentleman from Virginia [Mr. Bliley] for the way in which 
he has conducted proceedings on this bill, and I want to thank the 
gentleman from Louisiana [Mr. Tauzin] and the gentleman from Washington 
[Mr. White] for their willingness to work with people on this side of 
the aisle and to listen to our concerns and those of national consumer 
organizations.
  The gentleman from Washington [Mr. White] has made some adjustments 
in this legislation, and I thank him for that, but I continue to feel 
that this bill needs further adjustment and hope that we can continue 
to improve upon the language before the House this afternoon or when we 
reach conference committee with the Senate.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. BLILEY. Mr. Speaker, I yield such time as he may consume to the 
gentleman from Washington [Mr. White], a member of the committee.

                              {time}  1445

  Mr. WHITE. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Virginia for his 
excellent work in helping on this bill and yielding me this time today.
  Mr. Speaker, we have a bill here that in the last Congress had well 
over 200 cosponsors. In this Congress, we also have numerous cosponsors 
going all the way from the minority leader, the gentleman from Missouri 
[Mr. Gephardt] to many, many Republicans. That usually means one or two 
things; either it is a bill that is a really good idea and a lot of 
people support it, or it is a bill that does not do very much so people 
do not have to worry about it too much. I would respectfully suggest 
that in this case we are in the former situation, and I think all my 
colleagues should think very seriously about passing this bill.
  This bill addresses a very simple problem, the fact that consumers 
now do not know, when they buy a used car, whether the car has been 
damaged and totaled and then reconstructed or not, and that can lead to 
a number of safety problems. The problem is, we do not have a uniform 
system among our States to title these vehicles, and the bill is 
designed to solve that problem.
  Although it does seem like a simple problem, nothing is never quite 
as simple as we think when we start drafting a Federal bill, and we 
have spent 3 years, Mr. Speaker, talking to every single group we could 
find, from the State motor vehicle departments, the consumer groups, 
auto dealers, everybody we could come up with, to try to come up with a 
bill that solves this problem in a reasonable way, and I think the bill 
we have does that in a very good way.
  I would say to my friend from Massachusetts that there are some 
groups who oppose this bill, but there are far more groups who support 
the bill, groups ranging from the motor vehicle administrators 
representing all the State and motor vehicle departments, certain 
consumer groups, new car dealers, and most of the people who have been 
involved in this process right from the beginning.
  I would also say that while there are some groups who support it, 
many of them, the groups who oppose this bill, do so because it omits a 
private right of action, does not allow people to sue under a Federal 
statute in order to enforce certain parts of the bill. That is exactly 
what we tried to avoid in drafting this bill, was a process that would 
lead to a lot of litigation. We would like to have a simple rule that 
can be easily administered without a whole bunch of Federal preemptions 
of States rights.
  I would also say to the gentleman that we have spent hours and hours 
and hours trying to figure out a definition that achieves a balance 
between protecting as many people as possible but not being absurd at 
the end of the day.
  The gentleman may have an automobile that is more than 6 years old. I 
have to tell him that my automobile is 13 years old. My automobile has 
120,000 miles on it, and I can tell my colleague that if I have a flat 
tire on my automobile, the value of the automobile is such that it 
might well trigger the 80-percent threshold for saying that my car has 
been totaled. And what we have tried to do in coming up with a 
definition is find a balance where we protect as many cars as possible 
but we do not bring into the definition of a car that has been totaled 
cars as old as mine and as worthless as mine that still work but might 
be considered totaled because they have a flat tire.
  So we really have tried very hard to address the gentleman's 
concerns. I would say that we would like to continue to try to address 
the gentleman's concerns, and if this bill does pass today, as we hope, 
we would be happy to talk to him in the conference and see if we cannot 
make some additional adjustments that move things in the right 
direction, but we have worked very hard on this bill with all the 
groups who are interested, and I think it is time to pass it in this 
House today.
  Mr. MARKEY. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself as much time as I may 
consume.
  Mr. Speaker, again, I want to compliment the gentleman from 
Washington State, and the gentleman from Virginia, and the gentleman 
from Louisiana for their work on this legislation. It is a complicated 
piece of legislation, and where we draw the line is, of course, one 
that is, as my colleagues know, a judgment that is quite subjective.
  The bill that is before us today exempts sellers of cars where the 
automobile is 6 years, 6 model years, or older and worth less than 
$7,500. Now that is just a judgment call, but we are told that the 
average, the average automobile in the United States is 8 years old or 
older. So if the average car is 8 years old and we are picking 6 years, 
what are we talking about?
  So what I did was, I had Kelly's Blue Book site on the Internet 
pulled up so we can take a look at some of the cars that one might be 
able to purchase that would not be covered, one would not get any 
warning that the car had had serious damage to it. Here are just a few 
of the 1989 model cars that the bill exempts in the Blue book:
  A 1989 Chrysler Le Baron premium convertible 2-D, 100,000 miles; 
1989; one could get it for $1,310; but they do not have to say if it 
has had a major collision, they do not have to give any information 
about it.
  How about a 1989--would my colleague be interested in this: A 1989 
Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme coupe, 110,000 miles, cruise control, AM/FM 
stereo cassette, compact disk, CD changer, premium sound, sliding sun 
roof, and get it for 1,900 bucks? But my colleague is not going to get 
any information about whether or not it was in a crash.
  How about this one? See if my colleague is interested. A 1989 Alfa 
Romeo Spyder convertible, compact disk, CD changer, premium sound, air-
conditioning, power steering, the works, 4,470 bucks. 1989. But it is 
exempt; they do not have to pass on this information about whether or 
not it had a major accident.
  Now how about this one if my colleague is not interested in the 
others? A 1989 Porsche 944 turbo coupe with air-conditioning, power 
steering, power windows, power door locks, tilt wheel, cruise control, 
premium sound, sliding sun roof, alloy rear wheels, excellent trade-in 
value, 7,455 bucks. This is a 1989 Porsche, no information about 
whether or not it had accidents.
  I am almost done. As my colleague knows, I have got to go through the 
entire inventory in the store, and then I will be more than willing to 
yield to the gentleman.
  Mr. WHITE. I have got my eye on one right now. I would be happy to 
buy it from the gentleman.
  Mr. MARKEY. All right. Well, listen to this one. This might have been 
something that has been in the back of my colleague's mind over the 
years. I bet we all had a little bit of a fantasy

[[Page H9913]]

about this car, a 1989 Jaguar XJS convertible, beautiful car, really a 
beautiful car, air-conditioning, power steering, power windows, power 
door locks, tilt wheel, AM/FM cassette, leather, alloy wheels, 7,125 
bucks, 1989, 8 years old, the average age of a car in the United 
States.
  I think that we at least should have the average car. Now we all know 
that an automobile that is older than this, as my colleagues know, is 
not going to be worth, on average, 7,500 bucks. It is tough to find a 
car that is 8, 9, 10 years old that is worth 7,500 bucks, but yet that 
is the average age of the cars on the road, and millions and millions 
of Americans every single year purchase a car in that age category 
because they cannot afford to buy a brand new car. Are not they 
entitled to some minimal amount of information about whether or not the 
previous owner had a major crack-up with the car?
  Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from Washington [Mr. White].
  Mr. WHITE. Mr. Speaker, I appreciate it very much, and I know it is a 
mistake to buy a used car from the gentleman from Massachusetts, but, 
nevertheless, I am intrigued by the Oldsmobile that he talked about, 
the 1989 Oldsmobile, I believe the gentleman said it had a sun roof, 
for $1,900; is that right?
  Mr. MARKEY. That is correct.
  Mr. WHITE. And if I bought that car from the gentleman, and the sun 
roof had a malfunction, it could easily cost me $1,000, $1,300, maybe 
even $1,600 to fix that sun roof, and if it did cost me $1,600 to fix 
that sun roof, the bill would be considered totaled under the 80 
percent definition, which is why it would not make sense to include 
that car in this particular bill.
  The whole thing is about coming up with a balance. We do not want a 
situation where a perfectly serviceable car, no structural damage, has 
a damaged sun roof and then all of a sudden has to be classified as a 
salvaged vehicle under this title, and that is the balance we are 
trying to strike. I know the gentleman wants to strike the balance too. 
I know he suggested that we use a definition of 8 years. We actually 
have 6 model years, which is actually 7 years, so we are very close.
  Mr. MARKEY. If I may reclaim my time, what if, rather than the case 
the gentleman singles out, what if it was the axle of the car that was 
damaged? What if it was that the steering wheel, in fact, had been 
coming off in the hands of the previous owner? What if, in fact, the 
engine on a frequent basis had been exploding into flames in the 
driveway of the previous owner and he had been trying to unload it on 
some unsuspecting consumer looking for a bargain?
  So, yes, the sun roof answer is an interesting one and kind of a cute 
one, but it does not get to the core of our concern, which is the 
safety-related issues that could be covered up.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from Washington [Mr. White].
  Mr. WHITE. All I want to point out is, the gentleman is absolutely 
right, if a car has an axle problem, that is something someone would 
like to know about, but under his bill a car, or his suggestion, a car 
that is older than 8 years, one still would not know about the axle.
  So it is all a question of just where we draw the line to try to 
capture the most cars in a reasonable way.
  Mr. MARKEY. Let me reclaim my time one more time to say I agree with 
the gentleman, it is where we draw the line. But if the average age of 
the average automobile on the American highway is 8 years of age, then 
at least let us give that protection. We can decide that in 10 years, 
in 12 years it is caveat emptor, but, my God, most of us, when and if 
we buy a used car, we are going to be buying it in the sixth to eighth 
year category. So that is the only point I am trying to make here.
  The gentleman has moved the bill in the correct direction. I just 
think it stops short of capturing that group of automobiles which 
really is the most desirable used car that is being sold in America but 
with representations that may not fully reflect the safety of the car.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time at this point.
  Mr. BLILEY. Mr. Speaker, I do not have any more speakers, so I would 
reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. MARKEY. May I ask, Mr. Speaker, how much time I have remaining?
  The SPEAKER pro tempore [Mr. Packard]. The gentleman from 
Massachusetts has 9 minutes remaining.
  Mr. MARKEY. Mr. Speaker, I yield 5 minutes to the gentleman from 
Pennsylvania [Mr. Klink].
  Mr. KLINK. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding this time 
to me. He is gracious. I may not use all 5 minutes, and I would be 
happy to yield that time back if I do not.
  I just want to say, Mr. Speaker, along with my colleague from 
Massachusetts, I rise today to inform my colleagues that, in fact, this 
bill might not be what they think it is, and I want to first of all 
start off by giving great praise to my colleague, the gentleman from 
Washington [Mr. White], who has worked very hard on this piece of 
legislation, and the fact that we disagree on this piece of legislation 
does not mean that he has not worked with all great intention and he 
has moved the bill the right way, but I think that if this bill is to 
pass, that we are going to be making an already bad situation all the 
more confusing for the consumers across this Nation.
  And I would agree that the national uniformity for auto salvage laws 
is a very good idea. In fact, VIN switching and title washing are 
definitely a problem that national uniformity would help. But as it has 
developed, this bill does not provide that uniformity.
  As introduced, H.R. 1839 did require national uniformity even though, 
and I may have disagreed with how it would have preempted the State 
laws, at least it would have created a uniform system so that consumers 
would know exactly what it was they were buying, regardless of the 
State that they lived in.
  But, Mr. Speaker, I have to point out to my colleagues that the bill 
that they will be voting on today, as changed by the manager's 
amendment, will not get us uniformity, and in fact it now runs the risk 
of being worse than us doing nothing at all.
  In 1992, Members of Congress passed the Anti-Car Theft Act which, 
among other things, made carjacking a Federal crime. Also included in 
that act was the authorization of the National Motor Vehicle Title 
Information System to be a national data base of information on State 
and motor vehicle titles that would allow States to do an instant check 
on vehicles titled in another State.
  The way this bill works is to require States that want to participate 
in the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System to either adopt 
the new Federal standards or include a new notice on the certificate of 
title that discloses that their State does not comply with the new 
Federal standards or stay exactly the way they are right now and not 
participate in the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System.
  So, again, Mr. Speaker, I want to point out that making the adoption 
of the new Federal standards completely optional directly contradicts 
the bill's intended purpose to establish national uniformity and 
definitions and procedures regarding the titling of severely damaged 
motor vehicles.
  If this act passes, we will have three kinds of States; we will have 
States that can opt into the Federal standards and can take Federal 
grant money to participate in a yet to be developed national motor 
vehicle titling information system at the cost of having their salvage 
laws preempted by the national law. If a State does not want to do 
that, they would fall perhaps in the second category, and that is 
States that opt out of the Federal standards but they still want to 
take Federal grant money to participate in the national motor vehicle 
titling information system, but they would then decide to disclose the 
fact that they do not comply with Federal standards on each certificate 
of title that they issue. Or we could have a third kind of State, 
States that completely opt out and keep their current law.
  Now I am in favor of national uniformity, but, as my colleagues can 
see, we have some States adopting a Federal standard, some States that 
have to disclose that they are not going to adopt the Federal standards 
but that they still want to take Federal grant money to participate in 
a national motor vehicle titling information system, and some States 
that could say the heck with it all, we are going to stand pat on what 
we are doing now, we are going to keep our local standards, our current 
State law, that afford more

[[Page H9914]]

disclosure to consumers than the proposed Federal standard.

                              {time}  1500

  Now, I have to say again, this does not help us to achieve the stated 
goal of uniformity. In fact, I think it is going to worsen the current 
hodgepodge of State laws, while potentially undermining the 
effectiveness of the national motor vehicle tight link information 
system at the same time. In addition to having various State laws, we 
are now going to add to that another level of Federal law that 
consumers will assume is national uniformity, but, in fact, will not 
be.
  Mr. Speaker, I remain very happy to work with my colleagues if this 
bill does not pass so that we can achieve our goals, but as of right 
now this is a bill that badly needs to be improved.
  Mr. BLILEY. Mr. Speaker, I yield such time as he may consume to the 
gentleman from Washington [Mr. White].
  Mr. WHITE. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding me this 
time.
  I just wanted to say in response to the gentleman from Pennsylvania, 
I appreciate his work on this bill too, and I know he has worked with 
us long and hard in a sincere effort in trying to improve this bill. 
The same is certainly true for the gentleman from Massachusetts.
  If I could characterize what the gentleman from Pennsylvania has 
said, he is essentially saying this bill is not quite perfect, it does 
not quite establish a national uniform standard, and I would say to him 
that that is essentially true. It would be nice to have a uniform 
national standard, but we also have a Constitution that we have to deal 
with here and we can only do so much as the Constitution permits us.
  I think it would be a mistake to make the perfect bill here be the 
enemy of a good bill. We have a good bill that takes us a long way in 
the right direction. We have heard from most of the States, and our 
sense is that virtually all of them will participate in this program.
  So I think it is a good bill and one that is worth voting for.
  Mr. MARKEY. Mr. Speaker, I have no remaining speakers on my side, so 
I would urge a ``no'' vote on this bill.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. BLILEY. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume 
just to say this, and I will be very brief. The National Automobile 
Dealers support this bill; the American Association of Motor Vehicle 
Administrators, and a wide array of associations, industries, and law 
enforcement groups all support this bill.
  Yes, I would like to have a national standard, but because of the 
Supreme Court Brady decision, we could not do that. I would also like 
to point out, there were some statements made today that perhaps 1839 
would overrule existing State safety inspections. That is not the case. 
Mr. Speaker, 1839 specifically leaves intact existing State safety 
inspections of rebuilt and salvage vehicles. Mr. Speaker, I urge the 
adoption of the legislation.
  Mr. POMEROY. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H.R. 1839, the 
National Salvage Motor Vehicle Consumer Protection Act of 1997. The 
bill would remedy a situation where salvage vehicles that have been 
rebuilt are sold as undamaged used cars. This fraud occurs at the 
expense of $4 billion to consumers and business people each year.
  Currently, there is no uniformity in how States define and report 
whether a vehicle has been damaged and if the level of damage warrants 
the vehicle to be deemed salvage. Some States require that this 
information appear on vehicle titles. However, even the States that 
require this disclosure record the information differently on vehicle 
titles. These discrepancies leave the door open for consumers to be 
defrauded. With each State having different guidelines, a car may be 
considered junked in one State and yet could cross State lines and 
obtain a clear title in another State. This problem becomes an issue of 
consumer rights. Car owners and the auto dealers who sell the cars have 
the right to know the history of their cars, and the rest of the public 
has the right to know that cars on the road are safe.
  Under H.R. 1839, States involved in uniform titling and registering 
of salvage, rebuilt salvage and nonrepairable vehicles would have 
access to a Federal computer system that would assist in locating 
information about vehicle documents issued by other States. In an age 
when we attempt to track vehicles on Mars, why wouldn't we track our 
vehicles from one State to the next under a uniform system of titling 
procedures and definitions? It makes sense to use technology to guard 
consumers against theft and fraud of automobiles.
  This legislation would set a definition of salvage vehicle to mean 
any damage that exceeds 80 percent of the retail value on a car up to 7 
years old or newer. Once a car is designated as such, the car owner 
must get a salvage title. This sets the wheels in motion to ensure that 
a salvaged vehicle in North Dakota is a salvaged vehicle in New Mexico.
  You may hear the argument that States aren't able to set their own 
guidelines under this bill. As a former State insurance commissioner, I 
firmly believe in States rights and the need for States to tailor laws 
for their respective residents. But this is a case where uniformity 
across State lines improves the overall safety of people in communities 
across the country.
  The Motor Vehicle Titling, Registration and Salvage Advisory 
Committee, known simply as the Salvage Committee, that was formed as a 
result of the Anti-Car Theft Act of 1992 recommended many of the 
provisions of H.R. 1839. These provisions result in better information 
for consumers and dealers, and increased safety for the general public. 
With that in mind, I urge the Members to support the bill.
  Mr. BLILEY. Mr. Speaker, having no further requests for time, I yield 
back the balance of my time.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is on the motion offered by the 
gentleman from Virginia [Mr. Bliley] that the House suspend the rules 
and pass the bill, H.R. 1839, as amended.
  The question was taken.
  Mr. MARKEY. Mr. Speaker, on that I demand the yeas and nays.
  The yeas and nays were ordered.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to clause 5 of rule I and the 
Chair's prior announcement, further proceedings on this motion will be 
postponed.

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