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Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutions: S. 3381

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government

Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutions: S. 3381

Senator Gary Peters
Congressional Record: 114th Congress
22 September 2016


S. 3381. A bill to establish a program to accurately document vehicles that were significant in the history of the United States, and for other purposes; to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

Mr. PETERS. Mr. President, few American innovations have changed the modern world like the automobile. Cars and trucks are now woven into the very fabric of American life and culture. As a Senator from the State of Michigan, as well as a car and motorcycle enthusiast, I am especially proud of our State's leading role in the American auto industry.

The history of the automobile is really a history of American workers, innovators, and entrepreneurs, and it must be preserved. Right before me are two pictures of two really iconic vehicles, vehicles such as the 1964 Shelby Cobra at the top and a 1967 Chevrolet Camaro. These two cars helped spark a lifelong love of cars for millions of Americans. Fifty years later, these vehicles still inspire today's innovators and engineers as they work to develop cars and trucks of the future to be smarter, safer, more reliable, and more efficient than ever before. However, there is currently no dedicated Federal register to document historically significant automobiles, motorcycles, trucks, and commercial vehicles for future generations of Americans to appreciate and to enjoy.

Today I am introducing the National Historic Vehicle Register Act, which will establish a Federal register of historic vehicles and document and preserve records of these vehicles for our Nation's history. This legislation will ensure that the engineering drawings, photos, and stories of historically important vehicles will be available to inspire Americans and celebrate the accomplishments of the American auto industry.

The National Historic Vehicle Register Act would build on efforts of the Historic Vehicle Association to help document and preserve the legacy of some of our most historic vehicles. I recently had the opportunity to see two of the autos that have already been documented by the Historic Vehicle Association. I saw this vehicle right here at the bottom. This is President Taft's 1909 White Steam Car. It was the very first Presidential limousine. It is a beautiful and fascinating example of steam car technology from the early days of the automobile and could reach astonishing speeds up to 60 miles an hour. In addition to being a pleasant way to get around, President Taft's use of automobiles helped encourage other Americans to adopt the new technology as their favorite mode of transportation.

I also had the honor to see the Jeep up on the top photo, which is President Reagan's 1962 Willys Jeep CJ-6. It was a Christmas gift from his wife Nancy. Standing next to the Jeep, I could not help but have a vivid picture of President Reagan driving it on his ranch in California, often accompanied by his dogs Lucky, Freebo, and Victory. The register would work to preserve these memories, with members of the historic vehicles community selecting automobiles and motorcycles to include in the register and establishing collaborative partnerships to carry out the register's activities.

Our Nation's rich automotive history belongs to the American people, and it is worthy of its own dedicated register. I look forward to working with my Senate colleagues, the historic vehicle community, and car enthusiasts across the country to preserve our motor heritage.

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