From the Tom Woods Letter:
You may have heard that as of yesterday, it’s been decided that beginning in 2026 all cars sold in the United States will be equipped with a “kill switch,” whereby the car can be disabled remotely if it is determined that you are driving poorly.
Rep. Thomas Massie sought to defund this provision of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, a bill of over 1000 pages. His amendment was defeated.
But I want you to see the difference in how he argues from how the Democrats argue. You’ll see it immediately.
My amendment is simple. It will defund the federal mandate that requires all new vehicles after 2026 be equipped with a kill switch that can disable a vehicle if the vehicle has monitored the user’s the driver’s performance, and that the vehicle determines that the driver is not performing well.
It’s so incredible that I have to offer this amendment. It almost sounds like the domain of science fiction, dystopian science fiction, that the federal government would put a kill switch in vehicles that would be the judge, the jury and the executioner on such a fundamental right as the right to travel freely. But here we are. It is federal law that this is mandated. And so I am offering this amendment to defund this mandate.
Then Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL) delivers her response:
I rise in opposition to this amendment. Let me be clear. This this the act that the gentleman is trying to defund does not require auto manufacturers to install kill switches. It does not do that. Passive drunk driving technology is a vital tool in safeguarding our loved ones and other innocent people on our roads. This new technology offers a lifeline of hope to not only save lives, but to prevent the lifelong emotional toll and gargantuan costs these accidents inflict on families. Deadly drunk driving accidents can echo across generations, but we can seize this opportunity to stop such tragedies.
Between 2019 and 2021, Florida saw a 31% increase in drunk driving crashes in Mr. Massie’s home state of Kentucky, 190 people were killed in drunk driving crashes in 2021 alone. That was a 26% increase. When we saw these grim statistics, we acted in a bipartisan fashion in Congress. And how often do we see that both Republicans and Democrats supported the Halt act to require auto manufacturers to make this passive technology standard in new vehicles?
The sponsor of this misguided amendment will tell you that he worries about privacy concerns. We heard the same inane calls with seatbelt requirements. But you don’t have a right to engage in potentially fatal behavior that we know poses a major health threat to public safety. Passive drunk driving technology is pro-police. This anti-drunk driving technology lightens the load on police officers, allowing them to focus on more pressing safety concerns. The importance of this technology goes far beyond statistics. It’s about saving lives, preventing heartbreak and making our roads safer. It’s a passionate call to action to prevent alcohol-impaired driving from shattering the lives of those we hold dear.
This amendment, I understand, was dubbed the kill switch amendment and it does not require a kill switch. It simply allows, it simply requires passive technology to help us prevent drunk driving. In the name of the 406 people who that were killed by a drunk driver in my own state of Florida last year alone, I urge my colleagues to vote no on this amendment. Let’s take steps to reduce deaths due to drunk driving, not increase them.
Now here’s Massie again:
Drunk driving is a serious problem. That’s why 31 states already have a law to implement interlock ignition technology, where if you’ve been convicted of a DUI, that you have to pass this test in order to operate your vehicle. But this federal law that I seek to defund goes far beyond that. And I regret that I have to spend some of my time reading the law to the other side of the aisle. But I will do that.
This law that was passed in a thousand-page bill two years ago requires that automobiles can passively monitor the performance of a driver, not the blood alcohol content, but the performance of a driver of a motor vehicle to accurately identify whether that driver may be impaired, not drunk, it says impaired, and prevent or limit motor vehicle operation. That’s a kill switch.
Now the question is, how much time do you have once your dashboard tells you that it doesn’t approve of your driving? What if you’re a single mother and you’re out on a in bad weather and you’re trying to avoid some obstacles? Ice perhaps. And you’ve swerved three times and your dashboard says: swerve one more time and you’re going to be put over to the side of the road, that you’ll have 100 yards to park this vehicle in the middle of nowhere with your children in the back seat.
This isn’t some fantastical scenario. This is what will happen if this is implemented.
And this is the law. I have read it to you here. Now, you maybe should have read it two years ago when you all voted for it on that side of the aisle. But it was in a bill that was 1039 pages long. So I can understand how you don’t know what the law has in it. But I’ve read it to you.
Rep. Janice Schakowsky (D-IL) then speaks, evidently having heard none of what Rep. Massie just said:
More than 10,000 people die every year from drunk driving crashes. Drunk drivers are seven times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than a sober person. So you would think that the Republicans would want to do something about it. Democrats have done something about it and said that NHTSA now will have drunk driver protection prevention technology.
You know, this this technology has the potential of saving thousands of lives. And I don’t see that you’re agreeing that we should be saving those lives. And I would say we should all vote against the Drunk Driver Protection Act [her sarcastic name for the Massie amendment], and I yield back.
And finally Massie, who as you’ll notice is the only one who doesn’t sound like he’s reading a fourth-grade book report:
Well, we actually don’t know how this technology is going to work. And they don’t know over at the DoD, either, because we’ve sent a letter to them that they haven’t responded to yet, asking them: will this have cameras inside the car? Will it monitor your eyes to see if you’re focused on the road? Will it have cameras on the outside of the car? How will it know what your performance is relative to the road that you’re driving on if it doesn’t in fact know which road you’re driving on?
Will it need to know where you are when you are driving? If so, who has access to this data? Who has access to those cameras? Will the Fourth Amendment be followed? Will you require a warrant for your insurance company to access this data? Will you require a warrant for the government to access this data once your car has been disabled and now you’re on the side of the road with your children in it for reasons you don’t understand? How long until the police show up? Or what if you truly are disabled and you’re over to the side of the road? Does anybody show up? How long do you have to get out of the vehicle? Who decides when your vehicle kill switch is disabled and you get to drive again? Who’s going to adjudicate that on the side of the road?
What if it’s rush-hour traffic? What if you know you’ve already got points against you according to your dashboard, and it’s monitored your performance, and now there’s somebody’s pet in the road, do you swerve to miss it and get your car disabled? What if there’s an emergency vehicle approaching from behind you, and you know, the right thing is to swerve off the road and let that vehicle pass? After you’ve done that three times and now your car says, do it one more time and we’re going to leave you on the side of the road?
This is in the law. This will become law in 2026. Every vehicle manufactured after that. And it’s not about drunk driving. If it were, it would just be about blood alcohol content. This law has far more than that in it. It violates the Fourth Amendment. It violates so many amendments. It violates things that are so fundamental to our rights that they’re not even in the Constitution, like the right to travel. And so I urge support of this amendment. It will defund the law that was passed two years ago, that the other side of the aisle doesn’t even know exists.
It’s an open-and-shut case, yet all the Democrats and 19 Republicans voted to keep the kill switch.
The rate at which things are getting crazier is truly out of control.