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105th Congress Rept. 105-574
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
2d Session Part 1
FASTENER QUALITY ACT AMENDMENTS
June 9, 1998.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the
State of the Union and ordered to be printed
Mr. Sensenbrenner, from the Committee on Science, submitted the
R E P O R T
[To accompany H.R. 3824]
[Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]
The Committee on Science, to whom was referred the bill (H.R.
3824) amending the Fastener Quality Act to exempt from its
coverage certain fasteners approved by the Federal Aviation
Administration for use in aircraft, having considered the same,
report favorably thereon with an amendment and recommend that
the bill as amended do pass.
C O N T E N T S
I. Amendment...................................................... 1
II. Purpose of the Bill............................................ 1
III. Background and Need for the Legislation........................ 3
IV. Summary of Hearings............................................ 3
V. Committee Actions.............................................. 5
VI. Summary of Major Provisions of the Bill........................ 5
VII. Section-By-Section Analysis and Committee Views................ 5
VIII. Committee Cost Estimate........................................ 8
IX. Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate...................... 9
X. Compliance With Public Law 104-4...............................10
XI. Committee Oversight Findings and Recommendations...............10
XII. Oversight Findings and Recommendations by the Committee on
Government Reform and Oversight................................10
XIII. Constitutional Authority Statement.............................10
XIV. Federal Advisory Committee Statement...........................10
XV. Congressional Accountability Act...............................10
XVI. Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill, as Reported..........10
XVII. Committee Recommendations......................................11
XVIII.Exchange of Committee Correspondence...........................11
XIX. Additional Views...............................................21
XX. Proceedings of the Full Committee Markup.......................23
The amendment is as follows:
Strike out all after the enacting clause and insert in lieu
thereof the following:
SECTION 1. AMENDMENT.
Section 15 of the Fastener Quality Act (15 U.S.C. 5414) is amended--
(1) by inserting ``(a) Transitional Rule.--'' before ``The
requirements of this Act''; and
(2) by adding at the end the following new subsection:
``(b) Aircraft Exemption.--
``(1) In general.--The requirements of this Act shall not
apply to fasteners specifically manufactured or altered for use
on an aircraft if the quality and suitability of those
fasteners for that use has been approved by the Federal
Aviation Administration, except as provided in paragraph (2).
``(2) Exception.--Paragraph (1) shall not apply to fasteners
represented by the fastener manufacturer as having been
manufactured in conformance with standards or specifications
established by a consensus standards organization or a Federal
agency other than the Federal Aviation Administration.''.
SEC. 2. DELAYED IMPLEMENTATION OF REGULATIONS.
The regulations issued under the Fastener Quality Act by the National
Institute of Standards and Technology on April 14, 1998, and any other
regulations issued by the National Institute of Standards and
Technology covering the same or similar subjects, shall not take effect
until after the later of June 1, 1999, or the expiration of 120 days
after the Secretary of Commerce transmits to the Congress a report on--
(1) changes in fastener manufacturing processes that have
occurred since the enactment of the Fastener Quality Act; and
(2) any changes in that Act that may be warranted because of
the changes reported under paragraph (1).
The report required by this section shall be transmitted to the
Congress by February 1, 1999.
II. Purpose of the Bill
The purpose of the bill as reported is to amend the
Fastener Quality Act (FQA) (PL 101-592) to exempt from coverage
certain fasteners approved by the Federal Aviation
Administration (FAA), and to delay the implementation of FQA
rule until June 1, 1999,or 120 days after the Secretary of
Commerce has issued a report on changes needed to the law, whichever is
III. Background and Need for the Legislation
The FQA was signed into law in 1990. It requires all
threaded, metallic, through-hardened fasteners of one-quarter
inch diameter or greater that directly or indirectly reference
a consensus standard to be tested or documented by a National
Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) certified
Despite its enactment in 1990, regulations to carry out the
provisions of the Act have not been implemented. NIST's current
final rule, published April 14, 1998, includes revisions to
earlier proposed regulations which reflect legislative changes
adopted to the Act in 1996 as part of the National Technology
Transfer and Advancement Act (P.L. 104-113). NIST's April 16,
1998, final rule takes effect on July 27, 1998.
H.R. 3824, amends FQA by exempting fasteners produced to
the standards and specifications of aviation manufacturers from
the Act's regulations, so long as they are not specifically
represented by their manufacturers to have been manufactured in
conformance with standards or specifications established by a
consensus standards organization or federal agency other than
the FAA. Proprietary fasteners of aviation manufactures are
currently subject to the federal quality assurance programs of
the FAA. Aviation manufacturers are already required to
demonstrate to the FAA that they have a quality control system
which ensures that their products, including fasteners, meet
design specifications. According to testimony taken by the
Technology Subcommittee, both NIST and the FAA agree that
requiring such fasteners to fall under FQA regulations would
create duplicative and potentially confusing regulations that
would not assist the Federal Government in its efforts to
ensure the safety of the flying public. Furthermore, neither
the FAA nor the National Transportation Safety Board are aware
of any fatal aviation accidents caused by a substandard
H.R. 3824 addresses this unnecessary duplicative regulatory
burden, and, as amended, delays implementation of the April 16,
1998, rule to give the Secretary of Commerce the opportunity to
review the law to ensure that other sectors of our
manufacturing economy are not harmed by outdated or unneeded
IV. Summary of Hearings
On May 7, 1998, the Subcommittee on Technology held a
hearing on ``Aviation Manufacturing and the Fastener Quality
Act.'' The hearing was held to review FQA and determine if
Congress should recognize the FAA as the quality authority for
proprietary fasteners of aviation manufacturers. Witnesses
included: The Honorable Don Fuqua, President, Aerospace
Industries Association, Washington, DC.; The Honorable Ray
Kammer, Director, NIST, Gaithersburg, MD; Mr. Thomas McSweeney,
Director, Aircraft Certification, Federal Aviation
Administration, Washington, DC.; Mr. Ed Bolen, President,
General Aviation Manufacturers Association, Washington, DC.
The Honorable Don Fuqua, testifying as President of the
Aerospace Industries Association (AIA), commented on the fact
that under NIST's FQA rule, airplane parts, including
fasteners, currently regulated by the FAA still fall under FQA.
This places an onerous and perhaps dangerous burden on aircraft
manufacturers but does not add any value to aviation safety.
Most importantly, the testing requirements for FQA are
redundant as FAA already has in place its own stringent
requirements for testing of aircraft parts. These requirements
equal or exceed that of FQA. Additionally, Mr. Fuqua asserted
that there are insufficient accredited laboratories to serve
the needs of the aerospace industry in conforming to FQA. Mr.
Fuqua stated that AIA believes that dual regulation of the
aerospace manufacturing process, which includes fasteners, is
The Honorable Ray Kammer, testifying as Director of NIST,
explained that the intention of FQA is to improve fastener
quality and reduce the danger of fastener failure.
Additionally, the Act serves to protect public safety by
requiring fasteners to conform to uniform specifications and be
tested by accredited laboratories. Mr. Kammer further
emphasized that NIST worked closely with affected industries to
develop the necessary testing procedures, while attempting to
reduce the cost of compliance. He testified that the original
law would have had a $1 billion impact on industry, but NIST
has streamlined the procedures so that the impact will be
minimal. Mr. Kammer stated that with regard to aircraft
manufacturing, NIST agrees that civil aviation manufacturers
should not be bound by FQA, since the FAA currently assures
quality and suitability for proprietary aircraft fasteners. Mr.
Kammer, under questioning by the Subcommittee membership,
stated that passage of FQA may have occurred because of
anecdotal reports about fastener failures and not analytical
studies. He additionally suggested that portions of FQA may no
longer be needed. Additionally, he submitted a letter on June
2, 1998, further clarifying the Administration's position. A
copy of the letter can be found in Section XIX of this report.
Mr. Thomas E. McSweeney, testifying as Director of the
Aircraft Certification Service of the FAA, spoke to the process
by which the FAA assures the quality of all aviation parts,
including fasteners. First, the FAA, after approval of a design
for an aircraft part, requires the manufacturer to establish
and maintain a production and quality control system that
ensures the production of conforming duplicates. Second, the
FAA monitors manufacturers continuing production of aircraft
parts through regular surveillance and periodic (every 18-24
months) formal audits. Mr. McSweeney emphasized that this
process assures fastener safety at a level necessary for their
use in state-of-the-art airplanes and engines. FQA, on the
other hand, is intended to apply to a much wider variety of
fasteners. He stated that while different, the FAA system
clearly meets or exceeds the safety standards generated by FQA
and that subjecting the aviation industry to FQA would cause
significant delays and financial losses to the industry without
any added safety benefits. A copy of the FAA's letter to NIST
on needed changes to FQA can be found in Section XIX of this
Mr. Edward Bolen, testifying as President of the General
Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), stated that the
General Aviation (GA) manufacturing industry is seriously
threatened by NIST's implementing regulations for FQA.
Complying with FQA would force production lines to stop and
safety to be compromised. Mr. Bolen emphasized that subjecting
the aviation manufacturers to the requirements of FQA is
unnecessary because the fasteners are already subject to the
stringent quality program of the FAA. FAA's oversight has
clearly worked and should be continued. Mr. Bolen also stated
that requiring GA compliance with FQA may actually undermine
safety as FQA and FAA approaches differ greatly and cannot
necessarily be reconciled. A further concern with compliance,
according to Mr. Bolen, is that neither FQA nor the
implementing regulations define the key terms ``nut,''
``bolt,'' ``stud'' or ``screw.'' This forces companies to
develop their own definitions causing confusion. In conclusion,
Mr. Bolen articulated GAMA's position that proprietary
fasteners of aviation manufacturers should continue to be
regulated solely by the FAA.
V. Committee Actions
On May 13, 1998, the Committee on Science convened to
markup H.R. 3824. An Amendment in the Nature of a Substitute
was adopted by voice vote. An Amendment in the Nature of a
Substitute was offered and withdrawn.
1. Mrs. Morella offered an Amendment in the Nature of a
Substitute to add a new provision to H.R. 3824 delaying the
implementation of FQA Rule until June 1, 1999, or 120 days
after the Secretary of Commerce transmits a report to Congress
on recommended changes to the Act, whichever is later.
2. Mr. Bartlett offered an Amendment in the Nature of a
Substitute striking the provisions of H.R. 3824 and replacing
them with a repeal of FQA. The Amendment was withdrawn.
With a quorum present, Mr. Barcia moved that H.R. 3824, as
amended, be reported. The Motion was adopted by voice vote.
VI. Summary of Major Provisions of the Bill
H.R. 3824 exempts from the requirements of FQA
fasteners specifically manufactured or altered for use
on aircraft if the quality and suitability of those
fasteners, for that specified use, has been approved by
Delays the implementation of NIST's April 14, 1998,
FQA rule until June 1, 1999, or 120 days after the
Secretary of Commerce transmits a report to Congress on
recommended changes to the Act, whichever is later.
VII. Section-by-Section Analysis and Committee Views
Section 1. Amendment
Section 1 amends Section 15 of FQA (15 USC 5414) to exempt
from the requirements of FQA fasteners specifically
manufactured or altered for use on aircraft, if the quality and
suitability of those fasteners, for that specified use, has
been approved by the FAA. The exemption does not apply to
fasteners represented by their manufacturer as having been
manufactured in conformance with standards or specifications
established by a consensus standards organization or a federal
agency other than the FAA.
The Committee notes that the FAA promotes aviation safety
through comprehensive regulations that require FAA approval of
civil aircraft design and civil aircraft production. In light
of this regulatory oversight, the Committee believes that
certain fasteners used in the production of civil aircraft and
aircraft components should be exempt from the requirements of
FQA. The bill is intended to provide such an exemption.
FAA regulations include strict requirements and procedures
to assure the quality and suitability of fasteners used in the
design and production of civil aircraft components. The FAA
approves the design of aircraft and aircraft components,
including the selection and use of fasteners in that design. To
this end, FAA engineers review product design to assure
compliance with established FAA regulations. Once a design is
approved, a manufacturer of civil aircraft or aircraft
components is required to establish and maintain an FAA-
approved production and quality assurance system to assure that
fasteners used in the production meet the requirements of the
FAA-approved design. These requirements must be satisfied
before any aircraft or aircraft component may enter service.
FAA inspectors and engineers subsequently monitor these
approved systems through surveillance and periodic audits to
assure continuing compliance with the FAA requirements. These
FAA regulations should ensure that fasteners used in the
production of civil aircraft and aircraft components conform to
the requirements of FAA-approved design and comply with FAA
production system requirements, including quality assurance
Because of this stringent FAA oversight, the Committee
believes that proprietary fasteners of aviation manufactures
should not be regulated by NIST under FQA. Proprietary
fasteners include those fasteners manufactured or altered to
standards or specifications of original equipment manufacturers
regardless of whether they are manufactured by a subcontractor
or sold by the original equipment manufacturer as spare parts,
so long as the fasteners in question remain the subject of
FAA's quality control programs.
The Committee supports subjecting aviation fasteners to the
provisions of FQA if they are not proprietary fasteners but
manufactured by fastener manufacturers to conform specifically
with standards established by consensus standards organizations
or federal agencies other than the FAA.
Section 2. Delayed Implementation of Regulations
Section 2 delays the implementation of the NIST April 14,
1998, FQA rule until June 1, 1999, or 120 days after the
Secretary of Commerce transmits a report to Congress on
recommended changes to the Act, whichever is later.
The Secretary's Report shall include:
1. A discussion of changes in the fastener manufacturing
process that have occurred since the original enactment of FQA
in 1990; and
2. Recommendations for changes that should be made to FQA
as a result of improvement in the fastener manufacturing
The Committee believes that much has changed since the
passage of FQA in 1990. Both companies that manufacture or
contract for the manufacture of fasteners and federal
regulatory bodies with oversight responsibility for the safety
of consumer products have improved the manner in which they
assure the quality of not only fasteners, but also the products
which require fasteners.
According to both industry and NIST, since 1990, fastener
quality assurance procedures have evolved substantially beyond
the lot sampling procedure that forms the basis of FQA.
In its final rule, NIST attempted to accommodate the new
``process control'' quality approaches into the lot-sampling
based requirements of the Act. However, the Committee is
concerned that the NIST rule may be overly restrictive and may
not fully accommodate advances in quality control procedures.
Major industrial users of fasteners such as the auto
industry typically have fasteners produced to their own
proprietary standards by designated suppliers in a ``closed
loop'' process. Such processes may meet the same safety
requirements FQA was designed to address.
Under Section 2, no regulations promulgated under FQA shall
take effect until June 1, 1999, or the expiration of 120 days
after the Secretary's report is submitted, whichever is later.
The Committee has approved this delay in the implementation of
NIST's regulations in light of testimony before the Technology
Subcommittee that modern fastener quality assurance systems
(QAS) can be both more reliable and less costly than testing
techniques used when the Act was first passed.
Indeed, in connection with its recent issuance of
regulations under the Act and the 1996 amendments to the Act,
NIST itself noted the ``strong evidence that QAS/SPC
[statistical process control] reduces the defect rate in the
fastener manufacturing process.'' 1
\1\ 63 Fed. Reg. 16259, at 16261 colt 2 (Apr. 14, 1998). NIST
Based on these changes, and testimony taken by the
Technology Subcommittee which indicates that many, if not all,
of FQA's requirements may no longer be necessary, the Committee
believes that the Secretary of Commerce should conduct a
thorough review of FQA's provisions and recommend elimination
of any of its requirements that are no longer needed to ensure
public safety. The Committee has specifically directed the
Secretary of Commerce to carry out this study and does not
intend for this authority to be delegated back to NIST.
The Committee also requests the Secretary to consider other
FQA drafting and implementation issues that are brought to his
attention in a timely manner, including issues that may be
raised in Congressional hearings on this subject held
subsequent to the filing of this Committee Report, and to
include in his submission to Congress recommended legislative
or administrative solutions to those issues as well. Finally,
in preparing the report, the Secretary should consult with
impacted industries including, but not limited to, the auto
industry, the aviation industry and fastener manufacturers,
and, to the extent the Secretary deems necessary, federal
agencies involved in the investigations that led to to the
passage of FQA in 1990 to ascertain if a problem with
counterfeit fasteners still exists.
The Committee notes that if the Secretary feels that he
cannot conduct the study solely within his office, he has the
authority to establish a task force to conduct the review. The
task force should be established at the Assistant Secretary
level and may include representatives from other agencies,
including agencies such as the FAA and the National Highway
Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) which regulate the safety
of products which include large numbers of fasteners, and
agencies involved in the original investigation of counterfeit
The Committee would like to reemphasize that the review
should not be conducted or directed by NIST. This is not an
indictment of the worked conducted by NIST. Rather, the
Committee believes that Secretarial level review will avoid any
perceived conflict of interest that may arise when an agency is
asked to review its own work.
VIII. Committee Cost Estimate
Clause 7(a) of Rule XIII of the Rules of the House of
Representatives requires each Committee report accompanying
each bill or joint resolution of a public character to contain:
(1) an estimate, made by such Committee, of the costs which
would be incurred in carrying out such bill or joint resolution
in the fiscal year in which it is reported, and in each of the
5 fiscal years following such fiscal year (or for the
authorized duration of any program authorized by such bill or
joint resolution, if less than 5 years); (2) a comparison of
the estimate of costs described in subparagraph (1) of this
paragraph made by such Committee with an estimate of such costs
made by any government agency and submitted to such Committee;
and (3) when practicable, a comparison of the total estimated
funding level for the relevant program (or programs) with the
appropriate levels under current law. However, clause 7(d) of
that Rule provides that this requirement does not apply when a
cost estimate and comparison prepared by the Director of the
Congressional Budget Office under Section 403 of the
Congressional Budget Act of 1974 has been submitted prior to
the filing of the report and included in the report pursuant to
clause 2(l)(3)(C) of Rule XI. A cost estimate and comparison
prepared by the Director of the Congressional Budget Office
under Section 403 of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 has
been timely submitted prior to the filing of this report and
included in Section IX of this report pursuant to clause
2(l)(3)(C) of Rule XI.
Clause 2(l)(3)(B) of Rule XI of the Rules of the House of
Representatives requires each Committee report that accompanies
a measure providing new budget authority (other than continuing
appropriations), new spending authority, or new credit
authority, or changes in revenues or tax expenditures to
contain a cost estimate, as required by Section 308(a)(1) of
the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 and, when practicable with
respect to estimates of new budgetauthority, a comparison of
the total estimated funding level for the relevant program (or
programs) to the appropriate levels under current law. H.R. 3824 does
not contain any new budget authority, credit authority, or changes in
revenues or tax expenditures. Assuming that the sums authorized under
the bill are appropriated, H.R. 3824 does authorize additional
discretionary spending, as described in the Congressional Budget Office
report on the bill, which is contained in Section IX of this report.
IX. Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate
Congressional Budget Office,
Washington, DC, May 21, 1998.
Hon. F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr.,
Chairman, Committee on Science,
House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for H.R. 3824, a bill
amending the Fastener Quality Act to exempt from its coverage
certain fasteners approved by the Federal Aviation
Administration for use in aircraft.
If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Kathleen
June E. O'Neill, Director.
H.R 3824--A bill amending the Fastener Quality Act to exempt from its
coverage certain fasteners approved by the Federal Aviation
Administration for use in aircraft
H.R. 3824 would amend existing law regarding the regulation
of fasteners. The bill would direct the National Institute of
Standards and Technology (NIST) to submit a report to the
Congress by February 1, 1999, on trends in manufacturing
fasteners and on legislative changes that may be needed to
reflect current conditions. Implementation of NIST's
regulations on fasteners would be delayed until June 1, 1999,
or 120 days after submission of the report, whichever is later.
Under this bill, fasteners made for aircraft would be exempt
from those regulations if the suitability and quality of the
fasteners have been approved by the Federal Aviation
Based on information provided by the agency, CBO estimates
that NIST would spend about $100,000 in 1999 to complete the
study required by the bill, assuming appropriation of the
necessary funds. Because H.R. 3824 would not affect direct
spending or receipts, pay-as-you-go procedures would not apply.
H.R. 3824 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995
and would not affect the budgets of state, local, or tribal
The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Kathleen Gramp.
This estimate was approved by Robert A. Sunshine, Deputy
Assistant Director for Budget Analysis.
X. Compliance With Public Law 104-4
H.R. 3824 contains no unfunded mandates.
XI. Committee Oversight Findings and Recommendations
Clause 2(l)(3)(A) of rule XI of the Rules of the House of
Representatives requires each Committee report to include
oversight findings and recommendations required pursuant to
clause 2(b)(1) of rule X. The Committee has no oversight
XII. Oversight Findings and Recommendations by the Committee on
Government Reform and Oversight
Clause 2(l)(3)(D) of rule XI of the Rules of the House of
Representatives requires each Committee report to contain a
summary of the oversight findings and recommendations made by
the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee pursuant to
clause 4(c)(2) of rule X, whenever such findings and
recommendations have been submitted to the Committee in a
timely fashion. The Committee on Science has received no such
findings or recommendations from the Committee on Government
Reform and Oversight.
XIII. Constitutional Authority Statement
Clause 2(l)(4) of rule XI of the Rules of the House of
Representatives requires each report of a Committee on a bill
or joint resolution of a public character to include a
statement citing the specific powers granted to the Congress in
the Constitution to enact the law proposed by the bill or joint
resolution. Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution of the
United States grants Congress the authority to enact H.R. 3824.
XIV. Federal Advisory Committee Statement
H.R. 3824 does not establish any new advisory committees.
XV. Congressional Accountability Act
The Committee finds that H.R. 3824 does not relate to the
terms and conditions of employment or access to public services
or accommodations within the meaning of Section 102(b)(3) of
the Congressional Accountability Act (Public Law 104-1).
XVI. Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill, As Reported
In compliance with clause 3 of rule XIII of the Rules of the
House of Representatives, changes in existing law made by the
bill, as reported, are shown as follows (new matter is printed
in italic and existing law in which no change is proposed is
shown in roman):
SECTION 15 OF THE FASTENER QUALITY ACT
SEC. 15. APPLICABILITY.
(a) Transitional Rule.--The requirements of this Act shall be
applicable only to fasteners fabricated 180 days or more after
the Secretary issues final regulations required under sections
5, 6, and 8, except that the Secretary may extend such time
period if the Secretary determines that an insufficient number
of laboratories have been accredited to perform the volume of
inspection and testing required. Upon any such extension, and
every 6 months thereafter during such extension, the Secretary
shall submit a report to the Congress explaining the reasons
for such extension and the steps being taken to ensure the
accreditation of a sufficient number of laboratories.
(b) Aircraft Exemption.--
(1) In general.--The requirements of this Act shall
not apply to fasteners specifically manufactured or
altered for use on an aircraft if the quality and
suitability of those fasteners for that use has been
approved by the Federal Aviation Administration, except
as provided in paragraph (2).
(2) Exception.--Paragraph (1) shall not apply to
fasteners represented by the fastener manufacturer as
having been manufactured in conformance with standards
or specifications established by a consensus standards
organization or a Federal agency other than the Federal
XVII. Committee Recommendations
On May 13, 1998, a quorum being present, the Committee
favorably reported H.R. 3824, a bill to amend the Fastener
Quality Act to exempt from coverage certain fasteners approved
by the Federal Aviation Administration, and for other purposes,
by a voice vote, and recommends its enactment.
XVIII. Exchange of Committee Correspondence
XIX. Additional Views By Congressman George E. Brown, Jr.
When the Subcommittee held its hearing on the Fastener
Quality Act, we did not have the perspective of history. The
members, staff, and witnesses present for the hearing for the
most part were not present in the 100th and 101st Congress.
This resulted in some unfortunate characterizations of the work
of earlier Congresses as being based solely on anecdotal
In actuality, the Fastener Quality Act was based on
extraordinarily extensive investigative, legislative, and
judicial records. The Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee
of the Committee on Energy and Commerce conducted an 18 month
investigation during the 100th Congress including 5 open and 2
closed hearings. The investigation also involved the U.S.
Customs Service, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service,
various federal Inspectors General, and a number of U.S.
attorneys. Defective fasteners, largely of overseas origin,
turned up in tanks, submarines, aircraft carriers, planes of
all types, bridges, and even nuclear power plants. There were
dozens of criminal prosecutions, civil actions, and debarments
arising from the investigation. Then in the 101st Congress,
legislation was introduced both in the Committee on Science,
Space, and Technology and the Committee on Energy and Commerce
and legislative hearings resulting in H.R. 3000 were held in
both Committees. A majority of the Congress, including 41 out
of 49 members of this Committee, signed on as cosponsors
including all but one of the members still on this Committee
who served in the 100th Congress. Clearly more than anecdotes
is necessary for that wide a cross-section of the Congress to
lend their names to a bill.
We face a much different situation in 1998 than we did in
1990. Eight years have passed since enactment without
implementing regulations; now the effective date of the
regulations is less than 2 months away. Major industries are
representing that in the interim they have developed quality
assurance systems which provide protections to the public
comparable to those under the Fastener Quality Act, but at less
cost. NIST, the agency charged with regulating fasteners, is
saying that advancements during the 1990's in quality assurance
practice may have made parts of the statute obsolete. There are
fewer press stories about defective fasteners than during the
1980's. In the case of the aircraft manufacturing industry,
industry and regulators alike testified that the Fastener
Quality Act is redundant for fasteners regulated by the federal
aviation industry. Yet despite widespread concern on our
Committee that change was needed before promulgation of the
regulations, the rapidly approaching effective date of the
regulations precluded the careful analysis that must precede
the relaxation of a key public health and safety statute.
The Committee's solution is the best available under the
circumstances. The effective date of FQA regulations is delayed
from June 26, 1998, until the latter of June 1, 1999, or the
expiration of 120 days after Congress receives the report
required by this section. This will permit the Secretary of
Commerce to study the extent to which the problems being
addressed by FQA still exist including the potential for
defective fasteners from overseas once again penetrating U.S.
markets. It will also permit the Secretary to gather expert
opinion on the degree of compatibility between the Fastener
Quality Act and modern business practices and to make
suggestions on how to update the Act. The Secretary has an
awesome responsibility because he will be developing the main
document that the Congress will use in deciding how to assure
that the American public is shielded from the threat of loss,
to defective fasteners, of life, limb, and property. The
Secretary is to consider all FQA drafting and implementation
issues that are brought to his attention in a timely manner
during the moratorium period.
I sincerely hope that the Secretary will use this time to
draw upon the best advice available to him including at NIST
and at the agencies who investigated defective fastener
problems during the 1980's in an effort to come up with a
definitive report on the extent to which defective fasteners
still threaten U.S. transportation, infrastructure, and defense
and recommendations on the most effective way in 1999 to meet
that threat. Then and only then will we have the knowledge base
upon which to make an intelligent decision concerning the
extent to which we still need a Fastener Quality Act and the
extent to which Quality Assurance Systems can now provide the
American public with the protections this Act was designed to
George E. Brown, Jr.
XX. Proceedings of the Full Committee Markup
FULL COMMITTEE MARKUP OF H.R. 3824
WEDNESDAY, MAY 13, 1998
U.S. House of Representatives,
Committee on Science,
The Committee met, pursuant to notice, at 10:10 a.m., in
room 2318 Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. F. James
Sensenbrenner, Jr., Chairman of the Committee, presiding.
Chairman Sensenbrenner. The Committee will be in order. The
Chair notes the presence of a working quorum.
Good morning, pursuant to notice, the Committee on Science
is meeting today to consider the following measures.
First, H.R. 3824, amendments to the Fastener Quality Act;
second, H.R. 3332, the Next Generation Internet Research Act of
1988; third, H.R. 2544, the Technology Transfer
Commercialization Act of 1997; and fourth, H.R. 3007, the
Commission on the Advancement of Women in Science, Engineering,
and Technology Development Act.
Before starting with the markup, we have two pieces of
housekeeping. First, without objection, the Chair will be given
authority to recess during votes in the House, and second,
according to notice, we will also ratify Democratic
Subcommittee assignments and I recognize the gentleman from
California, Mr. Brown, for a motion.
Mr. Brown of California. Mr. Chairman, the House has
appointed Ms. Lois Capps and Ms. Barbara Lee as new Democratic
members of the Committee on Science. By direction of the
Democratic Caucus, I move that the Full Committee ratify the
Democratic members' Subcommittee assignments as set out in the
materials before the members.
Chairman Sensenbrenner. You've heard the motion. Without
objection, the previous question is ordered. All those in favor
signify by saying aye.
The ayes have it and the Subcommittee assignments are
The next order of business is amendments to the Fastener
Quality Act, H.R. 3824.
[The amendment roster and the text of the amendments
Chairman Sensenbrenner. And the Chair recognizes the
gentlewoman from Maryland, Mrs. Morella, the Chairwoman of the
Subcommittee, for 5 minutes for an opening statement.
Mrs. Morella. I thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman and
members of the Committee. Last week the Technology Subcommittee
held a hearing to examine the Fastener Quality Act in aviation
manufacturing. There was wide agreement by the aviation
industry, FAA, and NIST that there already is a federal quality
assurance process in place to certify the quality and the
safety of proprietary fasteners manufactured or altered
specifically for use by aviation manufacturers. Adding another
set of federal regulations and involving another federal agency
in that process would hinder the efficiency of aviation
manufacturing and add to its cost of production while degrading
the level of safety currently provided by the FAA.
During the hearing, I asked the Director of NIST, Mr. Ray
Kammer, if legislation exempting the proprietary fasteners of
aviation manufacturers currently reviewed and certified by the
FAA was necessary. Director Kammer stated that a legislative
clarification would be useful to address the concerns and the
confusion currently surrounding NIST's interpretation of the
Fastener Quality Act.
Director Kammer went on to assure members that in his
opinion the FAA currently undertakes a meticulous and rigorous
certification process to ensure that safe fasteners are being
used in the aviation industry. The FAA and the industry also
agreed that legislation was necessary.
So I'm pleased to be a cosponsor of H.R. 3824 which
addresses those concerns raised by the FAA and aviation
industry in a manner that is acceptable to NIST. I urge all my
colleagues to support this legislation which eliminates
unnecessary and duplicative regulations on the aviation
industry while protecting the safety of our Nation's flying
I would now like to, Mr. Chairman--I was going to yield to
Mr. Gutknecht, but I will yield back my time, then, Mr.
Chairman Sensenbrenner. Who would like to make--the
gentleman from Michigan, Mr. Barcia, is recognized for 5
minutes for an opening statement.
Mr. Barcia. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, and I
certainly won't take that long, but I did want to say that I'm
very pleased to cosponsor this amendment with Chairwoman
Last week the Technology Subcommittee held a hearing on
aviation industry-related amendments to the Fastener Quality
Act and, however, anyone who attended that meeting would have
noticed that the questions focused mainly on the impact of FQA
regulations on the automotive industry. The result of those
questions and subsequent consultations with NIST and the
affected auto manufacturers resulted in the development of this
This amendment is an attempt to address the immediate
concerns of those affected and to provide the Congress and the
Administration the necessary time to review and, if necessary,
amend the Fastener Quality Act to reflect current industry
quality control practices.
While I recognize this amendment may not be perfect, we
have tried to develop a pragmatic solution to address all the
concerns that have been raised.
I want to thank Chairwoman Morella for working closely with
the Minority members of the Subcommittee and other members,
and, of course, the Majority members to craft this language in
a very short time frame. I applaud her leadership on this issue
and say that I am grateful that we can work together and would
urge my colleagues to support this amendment. Thank you, Mr.
Chairman Sensenbrenner. The gentleman's----
Mrs. Morella. Mr. Chairman, I was just going to suggest
that my Ranking Member is always ahead of himself, and he was
this time on the amendment, and I very much appreciate that.
Chairman Sensenbrenner. Well, just an observation, we've
developed a reputation of being kind of speedy in this
Committee and today will be no exception.
The opening statements have been made. The bill is now open
for amendment and by unanimous consent the bill will be open
for amendment at any point. The first amendment on the roster
is the amendment by the gentlewoman from Maryland and she is
recognized to propose her amendment.
Mrs. Morella. Yes, thank you, Mr. Chairman. I ask unanimous
consent that it be accepted as read.
Chairman Sensenbrenner. The Clerk will designate the
amendment, or read the amendment.
The Clerk. ``Amendment to H.R. 3824, offered by Mrs.
Chairman Sensenbrenner. Without objection, the amendment
will be considered as read and open for amendment at any point,
the gentlewoman from Maryland is recognized for 5 minutes.
Mrs. Morella. Thanks, Mr. Chairman. You know the Fastener
Quality Act was signed into law in 1990. It requires that all
threaded metallic through hardened fasteners of one-quarter
inch diameter or greater, that directly or indirectly reference
the consensus standard, to be tested or documented by a
National Institute of Standards and Technology certified
Although the legislation has been on the books for 8 years,
and counting, difficulty in developing the regulations of the
Act have delayed NIST from implementing them until July of this
The legislation that I've introduced and that we're marking
up today, H.R. 3824, amends the Fastener Quality Act by
exempting fasteners produced to the standards and
specifications of aviation manufacturers from the regulations
of the act.
Legislation exempting the proprietary fasteners of aviation
manufacturers from the Fastener Quality Act makes sense,
considering that they are currently subject to the federal
quality assurance programs of the FAA.
We've already discussed that and, therefore, in addition to
that, the amendment that I am offering, with Mr. Barcia's
cosponsorship, we discussed at the Technology Subcommittee
hearing last week additional issues raised regarding the
Fastener Quality Act. In addition to the Act's impact on the
aviation industry, several members, including myself, raised
questions about the Act's impacton other industries. For
example, the automotive industry projects the cost of compliance for
the motor vehicle industry could be greater than $300 million, adding
$20 to the cost of each vehicle manufactured.
However, it is not clear that if it is necessary to include
the automobile industry under the Act since the National
Highway Transportation Safety Administration is already
involved in assuring the safety of motor vehicles, or if there
are even enough NIST-certified laboratories for the industry to
comply with the Act without causing delays in production.
Therefore this amendment.
This amendment is very straightforward. First, it delays
the regulations issued by NIST under the Fastener Quality Act
on this subject until after June 1, 1999. Second, it requires
the Secretary of Commerce to transmit to Congress a report on
changes in fastener manufacturing processes that have occurred
since enactment of the Fastener Quality Act and any changes to
the act that may be warranted because of the changes.
Delaying NIST's regulations until next year gives us the
opportunity to take a closer look at the Fastener Quality Act,
especially considering it was crafted over 8 years ago. The
Secretary's report to Congress will be a useful tool in our
efforts. We may find that changes in the fastener manufacturing
process have diminished the need for further regulations in
I do, however, wish to make clear that my amendment in no
way impacts the exemption from the Fastener Quality Act
contained in H.R. 3824 for proprietary fasteners manufactured
or altered specifically for aviation manufacturers. I agree
with the FAA and NIST on the need for the legislation and
support its passage.
So, this amendment, Mr. Chairman, and members of the
Committee, simply gives us more time to examine the need and
projected impact of the act before more federal regulations are
implemented on other industries.
So I am offering this amendment in bipartisan cooperation
with the Ranking Member of the Technology Subcommittee, Mr.
Barcia of Michigan, and I urge all of our colleagues to support
it. Thanks, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Sensenbrenner. The gentlewoman's time has expired.
The gentleman from Michigan.
Mr. Barcia. Mr. Chairman, I just----
Chairman Sensenbrenner. The gentleman is recognized for 5
Mr. Barcia. Thanks. I apologize for my inattentiveness
making my statement and ask that my previous statement be
inserted in the appropriate place in the record and yield----
Chairman Sensenbrenner. Without objection.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Barcia follows:]
Chairman Sensenbrenner. Further discussion on the
Hearing none, all of those in favor of the amendment by the
gentlewoman from Maryland please signify by saying aye.
The ayes have it and the amendment is agreed to.
The next item is the amendment by Mr. Bartlett of Maryland.
For what purpose does the gentleman from Maryland seek
Mr. Bartlett. Mr. Chairman, I have an amendment at the
Chairman Sensenbrenner. The Clerk will report the
The Clerk. ``Amendment in the nature of a substitute to
H.R. 3824, offered by Mr. Bartlett of Maryland''----
Chairman Sensenbrenner. Without objection, the amendment is
considered as read and opened for amendment at any point. The
Chair reserves a point of order on the amendment and recognizes
the gentleman from Maryland for 5 minutes.
Mr. Bartlett. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would like, first,
to address your reservation of a point of order. I know that
whatever we do on this part of the bill may require a
sequential referral. I've spoken to Mr. Tom Bliley, the
Chairman of the Commerce Committee, and he assured me that he
would bring this to a speedy vote in his Committee.
My amendment would simply repeal the Fastener Quality Act.
This was enacted 8 years ago. It has never been implemented
simply because those who are responsible for its implementation
do not feel that it is a needed law and they do not want to
Ray Kammer, the head of NIST, who is now charged with the
only regulatory function in NIST said 8 years ago in a hearing,
``in conclusion we believe that the development of private-
sector initiatives such as the one being launched by ASME for
fasteners is the best way to deal with the underlying problem
and misrepresentation of the quality and performance
characteristics of high-strength and other special purpose
fasteners. Accordingly we oppose H.R. 777.''
Just last week in a hearing here he said that he was
unaware then or now of any analytical study, anything that I
would regard as a scientific study that was presented. There
was in his view no basis for the initial passage of this
He has only certified a hundred-and-some labs that would
require more than double this number to comply with the
legislation. He noted that the industry already has an industry
standard, the ASTM standard. The problem of counterfeits would
not be addressed by this. Counterfeits are made by people who
ignore the law and having this law would not have anything to
do with counterfeits.
It has already been noted this would cost the automobile
industry $300 million a year. This is a pro-business amendment.
There is no scientific basis for this law; it has not been
implemented now in 8 years. We're going to be pressured to
exclude the auto industry, there's just no basis for this bill
at all. And so I would ask fora positive vote on this. It will
go to the Commerce Committee. They will vote very quickly on it and
they will sustain our position, I'm certain, on repealing this law.
Thank you very much. I yield back the balance of my time.
Chairman Sensenbrenner. The gentlewoman from Michigan, Ms.
Ms. Rivers. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Sensenbrenner (continuing). Is recognized for 5
Ms. Rivers. Thank you. Although I will not be voting for
this, I have great sympathy for the arguments that Rep.
Bartlett is putting forward. I was highly distressed in the
Technology Subcommittee discussion last week when I asked a
series of questions, looking for the supporting arguments for
the passage of this bill originally and for the continuation of
this bill and received virtually nothing from the Director of
He stated clearly that the evidence was anecdotal; there
were no data that were compiled in a systematic way; that he
could not explain what the problem to be solved by this bill
was; and the kinds of concerns that were raised were about, as
Rep. Bartlett suggested, counterfeiting rather than issues of
safety or quality.
I was not in Congress when this bill was passed, which is
the reason I'm not going to vote today to repeal; I've not had
an opportunity to search the record. But I think that in a time
when we are always supposed to be looking for legislation that
has been passed inappropriately or with unintended
consequences, this particular provision is a candidate for that
and I think if there are not strong scientific and policy
reasons to sustain this kind of imposition of cost and energy
requirements on industry, we should not be moving this bill
forward. So, as I said, I am very sympathetic and very
supportive of the proposal but I am not going to vote for it
only because I have not had a chance to research the original
Chairman Sensenbrenner. Will the gentlewoman yield to me?
Ms. Rivers. Yes.
Chairman Sensenbrenner. Let me say that there is some
urgency to move the bill as amended by the gentlewoman from
Maryland today because if Congress doesn't act by, I believe,
July 27, the onerous regulations will become effective, and my
feeling is, is that we can get a bill on the President's desk
and signed to delay these regulations until the Secretary of
Commerce makes his report. But I do agree with both what the
gentlewoman from Michigan and the gentleman from Maryland said
is that I think this is a useless and onerous law and I
certainly am not opposed to repealing it, but I am afraid that
if we put the repealer in the mix, we're not going to be able
to delay the regulation, so we will end up making a bad
situation worse. Next year we'll have the time to look at the
law on its merits, whatever they may be, and deal with it
Ms. Rivers. Thank you.
Chairman Sensenbrenner. The gentleman from Minnesota.
Mr. Gutknecht. Mr. Chairman, with due respect to you and to
the Chairman of the Subcommittee, sometimes a bad situation
does have to get worse. I mean, I think that this was a bad
idea when it passed, the evidence was overwhelming, the people
from NIST testified that essentially this came about as a
result of a walkway down in Kansas City that collapsed.
And the argument was it was because of fasteners which were
not adequate for the structural requirements. But NIST went
ahead and did a study and found out that was not the case, but
the bill had already passed. This is a solution seeking a
problem. It is a classic example of a $50 solution to a $5
And, frankly, I think the answer is not to exempt the
aviation industry and then exempt the automobile industry. If
you are going to exempt people, we ought to exempt everybody
except Congress and trial lawyers, and then we would have a
bill that everybody could support, at least except the trial
Chairman Sensenbrenner. Will the gentleman yield?
Mr. Gutknecht. Yes.
Chairman Sensenbrenner. Probably that lack of an exemption
is because Congress and trial lawyers have many loose screws
Mr. Gutknecht. But this is a bad, the bill----
Chairman Sensenbrenner. Yes, I'll let Mr. Davis respond.
Mr. Gutknecht. But this was a bad idea when it was
originally passed, it was passed on flawed assumptions, and now
we have groups who are beginning to realize that there, there
are severe consequences of this. The real answer is not just to
exempt people, the real answer is to repeal the law and so I
support the Bartlett amendment and, in failing that, if this
amendment fails, I would hope that the Chairman would allow us
another opportunity to come back before July and pass a
complete repeal. There's no, there's nothing in any of our
rules that say that we couldn't pass this bill as well as pass
a total repeal and let the President decide which one he wants
to sign, if not both.
Mr. Bartlett. Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Sensenbrenner. The gentleman's time--the gentleman
from Maryland has already been recognized once and under the
rules you can't be recognized more than once on the same
Mr. Ehlers. Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Sensenbrenner. The gentleman from Michigan, Mr.
Mr. Ehlers. Mr. Chairman----
Chairman Sensenbrenner (continuing). Is recognized for 5
Mr. Ehlers. Primarily as a courtesy to my colleague to
yield time to him but I--following your line of speech, I can't
help but note this is really a nuts and bolts issue. I notice
everyone's attention is riveted on it. [Laughter.]
And I want to yield the remainder of my time to Mr.
Bartlett so he can nail it down. [Laughter.]
Mr. Bartlett. Thank you very much. Mr. Chairman. I do not
want to, in your words, make a bad matter worse, and so if you
would see fit to commit to holding a hearing to explore this
issuefurther, with the view to--if the results of that hearing
indicate moving expeditiously to repeal this law, I will ask unanimous
consent to withdraw the amendment at this time.
Chairman Sensenbrenner. Well, I think we have a deal. The
Subcommittee on Technology has so directed to hold the hearing
and without objection, the amendment is withdrawn.
Mrs. Morella. And the Subcommittee will hold a hearing, Mr.
Mr. Bartlett. Thank you very much.
Mr. Brown of California. Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Sensenbrenner. Are there further--the gentleman
from California is recognized for 5 minutes.
Mr. Brown of California. Mr. Chairman, I applaud you for
working out this diplomatic settlement to this situation, but I
am constrained to offer a short rebuttal to the apparent
assumption that there was no basis for the enactment of this
law and that it has done no good and that it should be
summarily disposed of. I have in my hand here, as Sen. Joe
McCarthy used to say, a document which documents the need for
this bill in about 60-odd pages of examples of the damage
caused by defective fasteners and that is convincing. I should
point out that when the bill was originally passed, I think it
was 41 out of the 49 members of the Committee at that time were
cosponsors, including the present Chairman and the past three
Chairmen and also Mr. Fawell, Mrs. Morella, Mr. Weldon, Mr.
Rohrabacher, Mr. Boehlert, Mr. Hall, and Mr. Traficant who are
still on the Committee.
All of whom were convinced at the time that the threat was
serious and that it needed remedy. We may not have picked the
perfect remedy. This, I'm willing to stipulate, and we need to
review that, but I would make note of the fact as some of you
probably already are aware, that Ford Motor Company has just
recalled 1.7 million vehicles for faulty lug nuts which cause
the wheels to fall off. And 1.7 million vehicles times the cost
of recalling one vehicle, which I will estimate at $100 and
it's probably more, is $1.7 billion and it is not proper to say
that this is a situation which is no particular monetary
concern or relevance because today's news indicates that it is
a serious concern and something needs to be done.
Now I would prefer a private standard-setting solution to
this problem and that is what we are moving in the direction
of. I think, however, that sometimes these kinds of solutions
move faster if there is some indication that the problem is
important enough to warrant the Federal Government to look at
the possibility of legislative changes.
If the private-sector solution is the one that's desired
and can be worked out promptly, I certainly would have no
objections to abolishing this piece of legislation, but I need
to have some evidence that in fact, is occurring.
Chairman Sensenbrenner. The gentleman's time has expired.
For what purpose does the gentleman from Indiana seek
Mr. Roemer. Mr. Chairman, just like----
Chairman Sensenbrenner. The gentleman is recognized for 5
Mr. Roemer (continuing). Just as Mr. Brown has just
commented on where you came to resolve this question, I do want
to comment on it very briefly. I applaud you for trying to
resolve this with a hearing in the Subcommittee and hope that
the hearing in the Subcommittee can enlighten us a little bit
further on how to come up with a reasonable solution to a
The gentleman from Minnesota stated that it is a $50
solution to a $5 problem. He may be correct, but we still have
a $5 problem. We've had 100 indictments, civil actions, and
debarments in this matter, with phony fasteners coming into our
markets. It is very difficult to tell the difference between a
15-cent or 20-cent fastener that comes in from a foreign
country and a quality $2 or $3 fastener that is going to do the
job and protect lives, whether that be on a construction
project or whether that be on a fighter jet or in a submarine.
With the Asian problem now, and the Asian economies going
through the turmoil that they are going through, we want to
make sure that the Asian economies do not conduct themselves in
unscrupulous fashion and flood our markets with low-cost
counterfeit fasteners coming into the United States markets.
So, while Mr. Bartlett's solution may be to completely
repeal the act, we may need to revise and modify the act so
that it does solve a problem that exists out there. The current
regulations may not be sufficient to address that, but the fact
of the matter is that we continue to have a problem and we need
a common-sense solution to that problem which we do not have at
But we do have a vexing problem that I hope that the
Committee can solve in a bipartisan way and one that might get
worse if the economies in Asia continue to get worse and flood
our markets with low-quality products. So with that, I hope
that we can come up with a solution. I yield back the balance
of my time.
Chairman Sensenbrenner. The gentleman's time has expired.
Are there further amendments? If not, the Chair recognizes the
gentleman from Michigan, Mr. Barcia, to make a motion to report
Mr. Barcia. So moved, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Sensenbrenner. The question is on the motion and
the Chair notes the presence of a reporting quorum. All of
those in favor will signify by saying aye.
The ayes have it, and the bill is reported.
Without objection, the Minority will be given the
appropriate number of days to file dissenting, additional, or
supplemental views; without objection the bill will be reported
in the form of a single Amendment in the Nature of a
Substitute; and without objection, the Chair is given
permission to make appropriate motions to go to conference
pursuant to House Rule 20.