Auto safety bills that were on a legislative fast track after Toyota's safety problems surfaced now appear to be creaking to a halt for the year, congressional aides said.
House and Senate leaders have only weeks left to achieve a lengthy legislative agenda, and the auto safety bills are not high on this list, the aides said.
The bills have run aground because of industry objections, differences between the House and Senate versions, lawmakers' desire to return home to campaign and congressional priorities on job stimulants, tax cuts and spending bills, industry lobbyists said.
"It's kind of a witches' brew that makes it difficult to get anything done," said Michael Stanton, president of the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers. "The Republicans don't see why they should compromise with the Democrats on anything."
To be sure, there still is an outside chance that an agreement could be struck in Congress, particularly in the December lame-duck session after the Nov. 2 elections, said Stanton and other industry lobbyists who have been in talks with congressional leaders.
But more than likely, lawmakers who want the legislation will have to start from scratch again next year, the lobbyists said.
"Congressional leaders definitely don't have an easy glide path in front of them," said Matt Webb, a senior vice president for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which lobbies on behalf of many businesses.