Hours Rule Will Get More Hill Scrutiny

November 28, 2011

The pending hours of service revision will get more congressional scrutiny at a House hearing scheduled for Wednesday.

Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, chairman of the House Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs, will hold a hearing to look into the proposed hours of service regulations.

The Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs, chaired by Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, is planning a session titled, "The Price of Uncertainty: How Much Could DOT's Proposed Billion Dollar Service Rule Cost Consumers This Holiday Season."

"Uncertain" is a fair description of the rule's status since it first came out in 2003. It has bounced several times from court rejections to rewrites by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. And the changes the agency has proposed will increase costs, according to trucking and shipping interests.

But the rule will not go into effect before this holiday season. It is now being reviewed by the White House Office of Management and Budget, a process that could be done at any time but is not likely to be complete until January or February. Moreover, FMCSA can be expected to give the industry and enforcement community several months to prepare for the changes.

The hearing is the most recent move by Republicans in Congress who see the new rule as an example of excessive government regulation.

House Speaker John Boehner, Ohio, and Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Va., asked President Obama to withdraw the pending rewrite and stick with the current rule, saying that by doing so he can avoid adding a $1 billion regulatory burden.

Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and three of his Republican colleagues on the committee, told Obama in a letter that they will "aggressively oversee" new regulatory burdens. Mica has since declined to say what specific steps he would take.

The witness list for Wednesday's hearing:

* FMCSA chief Anne Ferro.

* Ed Nagle, president and CEO of Nagle Companies, a refrigerated and dry truckload carrier based in Walbridge, Ohio.

* Jesse David, senior vice president of Edgeworth Economics. Edgeworth was hired by American Trucking Associations to analyze the agency's proposed revisions to the rule. The study found that the agency's calculations of the benefits of the proposal are based on "misapplication of available data" and outdated information. "We find that FMCSA has overstated the net benefits of the proposed rule by about $700 million annually," the study concludes.

* Glen Keysaw, executive director of transportation and logistics for Associated Food Stores.

* Robb MacKie, president and CEO of the American Bakers Association.

* Frank Miller, director of logistics for furniture retailer Badcock & More.

* Henry Jasny, vice president and general counsel for Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.