House Republicans failed to defund a federal “kill switch” mandate Tuesday night requiring all vehicles produced in 2026 and onward to feature technology that can automatically disable the vehicle “if impairment is detected.” This lays the groundwork for corporate and government access to monitor and interfere with personal movement.
By a vote of 229 to 201, the lower chamber rejected an amendment proposed by Kentucky Republican Rep. Thomas Massie to defund the mandate embedded in the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Massie’s measure received 210 “no” votes from Democrats and 19 from Republicans. Just two Democrats supported the amendment and 199 Republicans voted for it. Eight members did not participate in the late-night vote.
The 2021 infrastructure law passed by Congress requires car manufactures to include “advanced drunk and impaired driving prevention technology” as “standard equipment” in vehicles. The provision requires such technology to “passively monitor the performance of a driver” and “prevent or limit motor vehicle operation if an impairment is detected.” In other words, manufacturers will be required to implement a “kill switch” mechanism on cars that can disable the vehicle based on performance.
USA Today sought to downplay the 2021 infrastructure bill’s “kill switch” provision with a January “fact check” labelings the warnings from Massie and others as “false.”
“Automobile experts told USA TODAY the bill does not direct a kill switch to be implemented in cars, nor does it give any third parties, including law enforcement or government officials, access to the in-vehicle technology,” USA Today reported.The paper’s next sentence read, “Rather, the bill in question directs a federal agency to require technology that would detect driver impairment and disable the vehicle in that scenario.” This leaves the question of how all new vehicles will function up to the descretion of unelected bureacrats in Washington, who could push manufacturers in dramatic directions.
The Associated Press also published a “fact check” on the issue in March last year accusing online commentators of “distorting” the law’s meaning. The AP concluded the term “kill switch” amounts to “hyperbole” because “none of the options being considered would include the risky move of lurching a fast-moving vehicle to an abrupt stop.”
The introduction of a “kill switch” on all new vehicles coincides with a growing push among the far left to limit freedom of movement. Often citing climate change as justification for new measures to limit transit, policymakers from California to the United Kingdom have introduced rules that would curb the use of private vehicles. On the West Coast, the California Air Resources Board came out with new regulations last summer to ban gasoline-powered car sales by 2035. One week later, California Gov. Gavin Newsom begged residents not to charge electric vehicles during a heat wave so the power grid would not become overwhelmed.
After Massie’s amendment failed, Hillsdale Professor Matthew Meehan posted on X, “Waves up the beach. This kill switch has got to be stopped.” (Meehan previously broke down the “kill switch” bill on the Federalist Radio Hour.)