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House Pulls Transport Appropriations Measure

July 31, 2013

By Oliver Patton

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Just as the House was set to consider an amendment that would reverse the recent changes in truck driver hours-of-service rules, leaders pulled the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill from the floor.

It was evident that the bill, which would have implemented the $44 billion budget the House adopted three months ago, did not have enough support, said Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers, R-Ky.

A close follower of the issue said that all of the Democrats in the House opposed the bill because it cut too much, while some Republicans opposed it for the same reason and others because it cut too little.

In theory the House could take up the bill again after its August recess, but Rogers does not think it likely.

“I am extremely disappointed with the decision to pull the bill from the House calendar today,” he said in a statement.

“The prospects for passing this bill in September are bleak at best, given the vote count on passage that was apparent this afternoon.”

Rogers said the bill was the “best possible effort” to fund transportation and housing programs while making budget cuts. The bill would cut $4.4 billion from current spending, to a level below what the programs had in 2006, he said.

“I believe that the House has made its choice: sequestration – and its unrealistic and ill-conceived discretionary cuts – must be brought to an end,” Rogers said.

He also said that the higher funding levels in the Senate’s $55 billion appropriations bill are not achievable. The Senate is considering its bill Wednesday and Thursday.

The House’s move could lead to use of a Continuing Resolution to keep these programs funded while until both chambers can pass and reconcile an appropriations bill.

Hours of Service

Before the bill was pulled the House was going to consider a proposal by Rep. Richard Hanna, R-N.Y., and several others to cut off funding for implementation or enforcement of the hours-of-service rule that went into effect on July 1. It would leave the prior rule in place.

The amendment is supported by 16 trucking and shipping interests, including American Trucking Associations, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and UPS, as well as the Transportation Intermediaries Association, the National Retail Federation and the National Grocers Association.

Hanna, joined by Reps. Tom Rice, R-S.C., Trey Radel, R-Fla., and Todd Rokita, R-Ind., said in a Dear Colleague letter that the new rule decreases driver flexibility and raises costs – complaints that have been aired by all of the industry interests.

His letter also notes that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is working on a field study of the 34-hour restart provision of the revised rule.

“Common sense dictates that the field study should be completed before the issuance of the final rule,” Hanna and his colleagues wrote. “Nonetheless, the study is still ongoing and the final rule has been put into effect.”

Earlier this month a FMCSA spokesperson said that data collection for the study was on track to be done by the end of July.

Congress ordered the study in last year’s highway bill, at the insistence of ATA.

The association’s view was that the agency should confirm in the field a finding from a laboratory study that daytime sleep is not as restorative as nighttime sleep.

That finding is the scientific basis for the new requirement that a driver take two periods off between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. during his 34-hour restart.

It remains to be seen if the data from the field study will be persuasive enough for the agency to reconsider its approach to the restart.

Comments

  1. 1. Jason Haggard [ July 31, 2013 @ 03:43PM ]

    Just how much more do the Washington lawmakers think we are going to take as professional truck drivers before we stop hauling freight. They have repeatedly shown more concern for the rebuilding of other countries and the promotion of foreign citizens before taking care of their own.
    This is a pathetic display of government officials ignoring the truth. Enough is enough, either right the wrongs that you have committed or give up your desks in D.C. and get out here and drive the trucks yourselves.

  2. 2. Teri Hittman [ August 01, 2013 @ 05:09AM ]

    Everyone needs to see what is going on. Governments LOVE trains. It's probably because they can control rail and the LOVE control. Politicians hate individual freedoms and the trucker is a blazing example of individual freedoms, accomplishments and success. They are being successful. Look at how all of these regs are closing down companies and scaring away new drivers!

  3. 3. gilbert garcia [ August 01, 2013 @ 07:03AM ]

    We have peole making decisions for the trucking industry that have never even touched a commercial vehicle. They sit behind a desk and dictate what we can and can't do. How can we all survive and be with our families and be able to continue to pay our bills with this new HSR? Big or Small, every one in the trucking industry will hurt severely or shut it down.

  4. 4. Jeff [ August 01, 2013 @ 07:12AM ]

    Well you whiners can complain all you want and you will not get any satisfaction until you get your peers organized and begin getting into the political game. Your employers have, but without your voice. Truckers are the largest group of employees in the country yet you have failed miserably to represent yourselves accordingly. Most of you don't even vote in the regular elections but you can bitch up a storm, well put up or shut up. On another note its because of your peers that have lead to some of these regulations you complain about, NOW...with that being said I do agree that the industry is way over regulated and it is compromising the production and profitability for carriers and drivers alike.

 

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