U.S. Rep. Roger Williams, a second-generation auto dealer, says any suggestion that an amendment he tacked onto a massive transportation bill last week was a conflict of interest is preposterous.
The provision, revealed in a story by the Center for Public Integrity, would allow auto dealers to rent or loan out vehicles even if the vehicles are subject to safety recalls. Williams offered the amendment just before midnight on Nov. 11.
Williams' office did not respond to the Center for Public Integrity's request for comment for the story, which was re-published by The Texas Tribune. In a statement on Thursday, Williams said he offered "a one word amendment that would affect thousands of auto dealers industry-wide."
"Today, not all automotive safety recalls are created equal," he added. "Dealers should not be forced to ground vehicles for a misprint or a peeled sticker."
The Center for Public Integrity story stated that, "in essence, the amendment would allow an auto dealer to loan you a vehicle under active recall while you are getting your own fixed for the same defect."
In his statement, Williams said that to "suggest my amendment allows me, or anyone in my industry, to intentionally loan a dangerous, defective car is a damning assertion. Let me be clear that my amendment does not protect dealers from future lawsuits that could strip away their livelihoods."