Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill has introduced bills that could subject auto companies and auto executives to tough new penalties for delaying a recall.
McCaskill, a Democrat, has been leading an investigation into GM's ignition switch recall scandal. The company admits it delayed a recall of 2.6 million small cars for ten years - and at least 13 people died as a result.
McCaskill's Motor Vehicle and Highway Safety Enhancement Act of 2014 would:
-double funding for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, to help it modernize and meet increasingly complex auto safety challenges
-eliminate the cap on NHTSA fines for delaying recalls. Currently the maximum fine is $35 million.
-give federal prosecutors greater discretion to bring criminal prosecutions for auto safety, and increase the possible penalties to up to life in prison for violations that result in death
-prohibit rental car companies from renting or selling cars that have been recalled.
How McCaskill's bill will fare, however, is anybody's guess.
The Act is part of a six-year reauthorization of the Highway Trust Fund. Congress failed to reach a compromise and pass a long-term reauthorization this summer, instead, approving a temporary, six-month funding bill.
That happened just days before the Trust Fund was set to run out of money, placing thousands of highway and bridge projects across the country at risk.