Officials Discuss Automotive Right-to-Repair at Congressional Hearing
On Tuesday, the U.S. House of Representatives Energy & Commerce Committee’s Innovation, Data, and Commerce Subcommittee held a hearing on the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) 2024 fiscal year budget. The FTC’s commissioners testified before the subcommittee. Several Congressional members of the committee brought up right-to-repair during the proceedings, as did some of the commissioners.
In her opening remarks, FTC Chair Lina Khan stated:
“Consumers and independent businesses have also benefited from commission staff working to defend Americans’ right to repair. The FTC has targeted unlawful repair restrictions, which could make consumer products more difficult to fix, and could close off the market to independent repair shops. Since issuing our 2021 policy statement committing the agency to this work, we’ve brought three major actions against companies for imposing unlawful repair restrictions and have required them to eliminate restrictive warranty terms.”
Congressman Rick Allen (R-GA) from Georgia’s 12th district also inquired about the FTC’s work on vehicle data access. He asked:
“A number of members from rural districts have been tracking what's going on with the American Farm Bureau - John Deere MOU and other related actions on farmers/repair facilities having access to farm equipment repair data. To date, there has not been any similar industry action or agreement between the automakers and interested parties (repair shops, car rental companies, aftermarket parts distributors, etc.). With the FTC's "Nixing the Fix" report in 2021 and the Administration's interest in this area, does the FTC have a strategy or plan to address the light duty vehicle data issues that owners of vehicles and their repair facilities face?”
Congressman Dr. Neal Dunn (R-FL) from Florida’s 2nd district discussed automotive right-to-repair as well. He stated:
“I’d like to recognize and actually commend the Commission’s bipartisan May 2021 report called ‘Nix the Fix.’ It was an FTC report to Congress regarding restrictions on repairs on various products. The vote was 4-0 on that ruling in 2021. This congressionally directed report highlighted the unsustainable rising cost of vehicle maintenance and repair, and it prompted the need for my bill H.R. 906, the REPAIR Act, which seeks to restore consumer choice and competition in the vehicle repair sector. The Nix the Fix report highlights the important ways in which bipartisanship at the FTC can result in positive legislative actions afterwards…[U]pon passage of [the REPAIR Act], vehicle owners will be able to repair their own property and repair shops can continue operating without fear of being put out of business.”