Following Paramus Bus Crash & Vargas Family Advocacy on Capitol Hill, School Bus Safety Measures Pass House in Landmark Infrastructure Bill

Three-point seatbelt provisions are direct result of Vargas family’s advocacy

On July 1, 2020, the U.S. House of Representatives passed school bus safety provisions as a part of H.R. 2, the House’s major infrastructure bill, the Moving Forward Act. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) originally introduced these provisions within his bipartisan Secure Every Child Under the Right Equipment Standards (SECURES) Act — legislation created in response to the tragic 2018 Paramus bus crash — to require three-point lap-and-shoulder seatbelts on school buses nationwide.

The school bus safety provisions passed today in H.R. 2 require the U.S. Dept. of Transportation (DOT) to study the benefits of three-point seatbelts on school buses, determine if they are safer, and issue a new regulation requiring the seatbelts on school buses nationwide.

These provisions come following Joevanny Vargas — father of 10-year-old Miranda Vargas killed in the Paramus bus crash — Miranda’s twin sister Madison Vargas, and Miranda’s grandfather Johnny visiting Capitol Hill this Congress to meet with lawmakers, alongside Gottheimer, to gather support for bipartisan school bus safety legislation.

“With these new provisions passing the House today, we’re helping ensure that every child in America will be as safe as possible aboard a school bus and we’re giving parents peace of mind,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5). “I continue to be in awe of Joevanny and the Vargas family’s strength and fortitude over these past few years, and I continue to be honored to join them in this fight to make our school buses safer for kids across our country.”

When visiting Capitol Hill earlier this Congress, the Vargas family and Gottheimer met with key members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee including Chairman Peter DeFazio (OR-4), Rep. Donald Payne (NJ-10), Rep. Tom Malinowski (NJ-7), Rep. Albio Sires (NJ-9), in addition to SECURES Act cosponsor Rep. Tom Reed (NY-23).

Gottheimer has also introduced Miranda’s Law, named for Miranda Vargas, to ensure real-time background checks — so that when a school bus driver has any driving infraction beyond a parking ticket, the school or school bus company will receive an alert about that infraction from the U.S. Dept. of Transportation within 24 hours.