Senate Committee Approves Bill to Help Detroit Make Hybrids

A U.S. Senate committee for transportation passed along a bill Thursday that included provisions to help domestic automakers develop and build cleaner vehicles, the Detroit News is reporting.
The proposal, dubbed the Vehicle Innovation Act, was included in a larger clean energy bill taken up by the committee. The Vehicle Innovation Act would set aside $313.6 million next year for research and development of hybrid technology, battery development and alternative fuels such as natural gas. Funding would increase by 4 percent every year up to 2020.
Nearly all major U.S. automotive lobbies representing manufacturers supported the proposal.
The proposal, which will now head to the Senate, faces an extremely difficult future. The bipartisan bill, which was sponsored by Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), and Michigan Democrat Sens. Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow, may be a long shot in the Republican-controlled House — if it makes it that far.
Separately, a bill that Peters introduced that would allow states to use highway funding to help advance road-to-vehicle communications, passed the Senate as part of a larger transportation package. The bill, called the Vehicle-to-Infrastructure Safety Technology Investment Flexibility Act of 2015 says what it does and does what it says will be part of the Senate’s larger 6-year highway funding package.
Along with the Vehicle Innovation Act, the “smart road” provision and larger funding bill won’t be taken up by the House anytime soon. Congress is working toward a 3-month stopgap measure and will take up the larger spending packages after its August recess.
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