Despite the feud between Republicans, Democrats and the Obama administration that has resulted in a partial shutdown of the federal government, the U.S. Senate came together late Friday to give approval to legislation regarding sleep apnea and truckers.

It requires any Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration action on sleep apnea to go through the usual rulemaking process, rather than the agency simply issuing guidance. HR 3095 was approved in the Senate by unanimous consent after passing the U.S. House by a vote of 405-0 Sept. 26. It now heads to President Obama for his signature.

The measure, introduced by Reps. Larry Bucshon, R-Ind., and Daniel Lipinski, D-Ill., does not require FMCSA to issue any policy or regulation regarding sleep apnea. Rather, the bill ensures that any future policy issued on sleep apnea does not avoid a thorough analysis of the prevalence of obstructive sleep apnea among truck and bus drivers, the range of possible actions to address the problem, and the costs and benefits of any policy.

Proponents of the legislation say FMCSA guidance on sleep apnea could cost trucking $1 billion annually.

Shortly after the legislation was introduced, FMCSA announced it would address sleep apnea through the usual rulemaking procedure, rather than simply issuing guidance. Many trucking interests had expressed reservations about FMCSA issuing guidance rather than a rulemaking because it does not allow for public comment period like a rulemaking does, and does not give employers a clear enough statement of their legal responsibilities.

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