Backed by Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, the bill would require automakers to share the data, tools, and instructions needed to repair their vehicles.
The ‘right-to-repair’ bill, a bipartisan movement that has gained traction in state legislatures across the U.S., has reached Congress.
Backed by Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, a Democrat and co-owner of an auto repair shop with her husband, the bill aims to advocate for the right of Americans to repair their own phones, cars, and tractors. According to an article from The Columbian, Perez has supported two bills that would give consumers and independent repair shops access to the parts, tools, and equipment needed to repair cars at a lower cost.
“This is a critical piece of not just supporting the trades, but also who we are as Americans,” she said. “Our cultural heritage is really founded in people that believe in self-sufficiency, that we’re not consumers. We were a nation of producers and we are losing that rapidly. The things that are being made now are increasingly designed to be disposable and not repairable.”
Today’s cars and trucks are equipped with computers and proprietary parts that have made drivers more reliant on dealerships, rather than independent auto shops and aftermarket part manufacturers that can lower costs.
The REPAIR Act, introduced by Perez, GOP Rep. Neal Dunn of Florida, and two other lawmakers, would require automakers to share the data, tools, and instructions needed to repair their vehicles. According to Perez, not having those resources hurts small businesses and raises costs for car owners.
There are also major environmental benefits, Perez suggests, that come from fixing products instead of just throwing them out to make new ones, which often creates toxic waste.
Studies have shown that manufacturing a new car can produce more carbon emissions than years of driving an older, less fuel-efficient car. Mining the nickel, lithium, and cobalt required to make the batteries that power phones and electric vehicles has been shown to cause pollution and widespread human-rights abuses.
According to the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, at the state level, lawmakers have introduced right-to-repair bills in at least 20 states in 2023.
Despite the bipartisan support for the bills, strong opposition from corporations that stand to lose profits makes passing the law far from certain. Facing pressure from consumers and lawmakers, companies like John Deere, Apple, and Samsung recently have announced incremental changes to make repairs easier.
Due to this opposition, Perez believes passing the federal right-to-repair laws would require enough grassroots support from across the U.S. to outmuscle corporate lobbying.
“If you’re busy, if you’re working three jobs, you don’t have time to lobby and tell your representative what would make your life easier, better, more affordable,” she said. “What I really need is for everyday people to reach out to their legislators all across rural America, people who work for a living reaching out and asking their legislators to co-sponsor and support these bills.”