Bill to cut repair costs for federal vehicles passes

David Shepardson
Detroit News Washington Bureau

The U.S. House on Monday approved a bipartisan bill to cut federal vehicle repair costs.

The measure, proposed by Sen. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township and Bill Huizenga, R-Zeeland, is aimed at reducing the nearly $1 billion in annual federal vehicle repair costs by encouraging the use of remanufactured auto parts. The bill will be sent to President Barack Obama for his signature.

The bill was the first introduced by Peters, D-Bloomfield Township, who took office in early January. The measure was co-sponsored by Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla. The pair introduced the proposal last year when they were both in the U.S. House.

Peters said the bill will “reduce wasteful spending, ensure tax dollars are being used efficiently and support the growing remanufacturing industry in Michigan and across the country.”

“When we fix federal vehicles, let’s also fix our federal budget,” Lankford said. “The Federal Vehicle Repair Cost Saving Act is a commonsense solution to conserve American taxpayer dollars while using good-as-new auto parts remanufactured in the U.S.”

Remanufactured parts are often less expensive than new parts and have been returned to same-as-new condition. The parts including engines, transmissions, alternators and starters, are under full warranty. The bill requires all heads of federal agencies to encourage the use of remanufactured parts when doing so lowers costs, maintains quality and performance and does not compromise safety. The Motor and Equipment Manufacturers Association endorsed the measure.

"This legislation demonstrates that even in a divided Washington, commonsense solutions that save taxpayer dollars and create jobs can pass Congress with strong bipartisan support,” said Huizenga. “Remanufacturing has the potential to be a significant source of job creation and economic growth, not only in West Michigan, but across the entire state. I look forward to working with Senator Peters in the future and providing more made-in-Michigan solutions to the challenges facing our nation.”

In December 2011, the pair sought a Government Accountability Office study on the potential for using remanufactured parts in order to reduce repair and maintenance costs of government vehicles. The GAO study released in March found that the parts present an opportunity to reduce vehicle repair and maintenance expenses. The federal government spends nearly $1 billion per year on repair and maintenance of 588,000 government vehicles.

Peters noted that the U.S. is the world’s largest producer, consumer, and exporter of remanufactured goods. Remanufacturing of motor vehicle parts creates 30,653 full-time U.S. jobs, while remanufacturing of off-road equipment creates an additional 20,870 jobs, he said.