The Modernizing Seat Back Safety Act could get hung up in Congress

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Back in June, Representatives Kathleen Rice of New York; Jan Schakowsky of Illinois and Diana DeGette of Colorado introduced the Modernizing Seat Back Safety Act in the U.S. House of Representatives. A few months prior, an identical bill was introduced in the Senate by Edward Markey of Massachusetts and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut. The official text of the bill says it is intended "to issue a final rule revising motor vehicle seat back safety standards." For reasons that will become clear soon enough, this legislation sounds like it could address a very important safety issue with cars and trucks currently being sold in the United States.

According to CBS News, this legislation was tucked into the $1 trillion infrastructure bill that Congress has been and is currently still debating. But according to CBS News, progressive democrats are threatening to vote against the bill unless the $3.5 trillion budget plan championed by President Biden passes first. Republican politicians are, by and large, expected to vote against the budget plan legislation. If the infrastructure bill fails to pass, the Modernizing Seat Back Safety Act will fail along with it.

Why is seat back safety important? "For over fifty years the government seatback standard has been so inadequate as to allow the average dining room chair to pass a test that is supposed to protect back seat passengers in a rear crash," Jason Levine, executive Director of the Center for Auto Safety, said in an interview with CBS News.

According to the Center for Auto Safety, "an average of 50 children a year are killed by these seatback failures" that the legislation seeks to address. Besides the deaths, an unknown number of serious injuries are caused by seatbacks that fail when a vehicle is struck hard enough from behind. When the seatback fails, it can flip back onto rear-seat occupants — more often than not children, some in car seats — and cause serious injury or death.

A vote on the infrastructure bill was planned for today, but has suffered delays.

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