The Federal Trade Commission went to Congress again yesterday seeking its approval of a controversial regulation that would require used-car dealers to disclose more information to consumers about the cars they sell.
By a unanimous vote, the FTC resubmitted its rule to Congress, which, under a two-year-old law, has the power to veto the rule if a majority in both the House and Senate pass a resolution of disapproval.
With 40 senators and more than 200 representatives sponsoring such a resolution, Congress came close to approving a veto in December. But a parliamentary maneuver by opponents of the veto postponed any vote until after the Christmas recess.
As a result, the FTC had to resubmit its regulation for another 90-day review before it would go into effect. If no veto is passed within that time, automobile dealers soon will be required to post one-page stickers on used-cars to tell consumers about any known major defects as well as what warranty rights are offered with the car.
Automobile dealers have mounted a vehement campaign against the rule, arguing that the rule is onerous, unfair and unworkable.
Some consumer groups, however, have contended the sticker is the only way to correct misrepresentations made by disreputable dealers. In the past two months, consumer groups have stepped up their lobbying to persuade congressmen that the rule should be kept intact.
In agreeing to resubmit the rule to Congress, FTC Chairman James C. Miller III indicated that he does not necessarily endorse the rule. Miller, who wasn't at the commission when the rule was approved, said the law required the regulation to be resubmitted without any changes, thus requiring him to vote with the other commissioners to send the controversial rule back to Congress.