House Speaker John Boehner, Ohio, and Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Va., yesterday wrote President Obama, saying that by dropping the rewrite he can avoid adding a $1 billion regulatory burden.
"The Small Business Administration's Office of Advocacy has noted that the DOT's proposed changes to the hours of service rules are 'not supported by existing safety and health data,'" they said.
Picking up on the message that has been put out by American Trucking Associations, Boehner and Cantor said that safety has improved under the current rule, and the new rule will cut truck productivity and force carriers to put more drivers on the road. The increased costs will put pressure on all businesses but particularly on small businesses, they said.
"For these reasons, we respectfully urge that your administration withdraw the proposed changes and permit the current hours of service rules to remain in place."
This follows a similar but somewhat stronger letter posted recently by Rep. John Mica, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and three of his Republican colleagues on the committee.
The Mica letter warned the administration that the T&I Committee will challenge any changes to the current rules.
"We will aggressively oversee any attempt by the U.S. Department of Transportation to impose new regulatory burdens on the trucking industry by making changes to the current hours of service rules," they wrote.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has been working on revisions to the rule for two years and is scheduled to post its final version Oct. 28. Whether it will meet that deadline remains to be seen: the final rule was slated to be sent to the White House Office of Management and Budget Aug. 30, but it still is being reviewed in the Secretary's office at the Department of Transportation.