U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio warned CEOs of Uber Technologies Inc. and Lyft Inc. that the committee may take policy decisions on the ride-hailing industry without their input if the companies fail to send representatives to testify at an upcoming congressional hearing.
In letters sent Oct. 14 to Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi and Lyft CEO Logan Green, DeFazio said he intends "to pursue legislative solutions" to address several issues plaguing the ride-hailing industry, including conditions governing the ride-hailing services' partnerships with States, local governments and transit agencies, the labor impacts of their business model, and public safety problems faced by those using their platforms.
Both Uber and Lyft declined previous invitations to testify at the Oct. 16 hearing called "Examining the Future of Transportation Network Companies: Challenges and Opportunities."
The ride-hailing companies instead suggested that the committee should invite "third party industry associations" to discuss technology innovation in transportation, a proposal that DeFazio said was "unacceptable" and asked the executives to reconsider their stand.
"News reports in recent weeks have raised serious questions about a wide range of issues including sexual predation by drivers, the need for background checks and deactivation of dangerous drivers, and inadequate wages. Only a direct Uber representative is capable of answering direct questions that the 56 Members of the Subcommittee will have about Uber's policies on these and a range of other issues," DeFazio said.
"If you do not send a representative to testify at the hearing, you leave the Committee little choice but to make these policy decisions without your input."
In an e-mailed statement to S&P Global Market Intelligence, an Uber spokesperson confirmed receiving the letter but did not elaborate on the matter.
Lyft said in an emailed statement that the company is "committed to engaging thoughtfully" with the committee but did not provide a reason for planning to skip the hearing.
"These are important topics that we take very seriously," Lyft said. "We look forward to future discussions with policymakers and stakeholders."