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Dealers converge in Washington

October 9, 2015
More than 500 new-car dealers and dealer association executives converged on Capitol Hill in late September for the NADA’s Washington Conference, where they attended briefings and met with members of Congress to discuss key policy issues, such as protecting consumer choice in auto financing and supporting legislation that boost consumer recall completion rates. 
In remarks to conference attendees, NADA Chairman Bill Fox stressed the importance of correcting misconceptions in the nation’s capital about the retail-auto industry.
"There’s a disturbing pattern of regulators wrapping ‘red tape’ around our industry and yet, they don’t fully understand it," said Fox, a multi-franchise dealer in the upstate New York cities of Auburn and Phoenix. "That’s why we need to keep working hard to get House Resolution 1737 passed, and explain that dealer-assisted financing is really a consumer issue."
In July, the House Financial Services Committee passed the NADA-backed H.R. 1737 to rescind the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s flawed auto finance guidance that would limit or eliminate a customer’s ability to receive discounted auto loans at dealerships. The bipartisan committee vote was 47-10. This bill also calls for more transparency from the agency and a public notice and comment period when future auto lending guidance is issued.
Dealers and state dealer groups at the Washington conference made more than 300 congressional visits on Capitol Hill to increase support for H.R. 1737 beyond the 147 cosponsors (86 Republicans and 61 Democrats) the legislation had amassed by late September. A full House vote is expected this fall. 
Concerning proposed bills on recalls, Wes Lutz, chairman of the NADA’s government relations committee, urged dealers to ask their members of Congress not to cosponsor H.R. 2198 and H.R. 1181, saying the legislation "misses the mark by requiring recalled vehicles be grounded instead of actually fixed."
"Imagine what would happen if dealers could only offer a fraction for customer trade-ins, or couldn’t accept them at all. This could be the reality if the Blumenthal amendment is passed," said Lutz, a dealer in Michigan. "Dealers support a 100 percent recall completion rate. Congress should focus on legislation that helps increase recall completion rates."  
There are 46 million vehicles on the road today under open recall, but many of the defects have nothing to do with vehicle safety, Lutz added.
Other conference speakers included Rep. Frank Guinta (R-N.H.), lead sponsor of H.R. 1737; Rep. David Scott (D-Ga.); Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.); Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii); FTC Commissioner Maureen Ohlhausen; NADA President Peter Welch; and political analysts Charlie Cook and Amy Walter.