Rep. Frank Wolf is going to withhold funding for the Office of Motor Carrier and Highway Safety until he sees significant reforms in the federal truck safety program.
At a markup hearing on a bill appropriating funds for the Department of Transportation in fiscal year 2000, the Virginia Republican sent a strong message to his colleagues. "I will force the issue so Congress does not go home this fiscal year without action," he said.
The bill, which now goes from Wolf's Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee to the full Appropriations Committee, does not contain the provision it had last year to move OMCHS to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. But that still is what Wolf wants, although he has said he is open to the idea of a new Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
An aide indicated that Wolf is not inclined to support the idea put forward by Norman Mineta this week to elevate safety to equal status with highways in a Federal Highway and Motor Carrier Administration (see "Mineta Recommends Higher Status For Safety In DOT," http://www.heavytruck.com/hdt/news.html#990527.1798). Wolf remains convinced that the motor carrier safety program must be removed from the Federal Highway Administration before it can be effective.
Wolf did not mention the action plan put forward by Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater earlier this week (see "Slater Acts to Keep OMCHS Where It Is," http://www.heavytruck.com/hdt/news.html#990526.1790). That proposal, which would keep OMCHS where it is but target a 50% reduction in truck-related fatalities in the next decade, drew sharp negative reaction elsewhere on Capitol Hill.