The House is working on a temporary appropriations measure that does not include a suspension of the 34-hour restart provision of the hours of service rule.
The Continuing Resolution is a relatively “clean” bill that leaves out such initiatives as American Trucking Associations’ attempt to suspend the restart.
Earlier this summer ATA won consideration of the suspension in the Senate’s version of the fiscal year 2015 appropriations bill. The Senate did not finish debate on the provision, however, due to partisan differences over spending policy.
Dave Osiecki, executive vice president and chief of national advocacy for ATA, said the association will continue to try and attach the suspension to the appropriations process.
“Our short-term strategy continues to be appropriations-based,” Osiecki said in response to an email query.
“While the (Continuing Resolution) may not provide an opportunity, it is only a short-term measure.”
The resolution would fund federal programs at current levels until December 15. Congress often uses these types of bills to maintain funding past the end of the October 1 fiscal year. Failure to pass the resolution would lead to a government shutdown.
The resolution probably will go to the floor next week after legislators decide how they want to handle funding issues related to President Obama’s plan to suppress the terrorist group ISIS operating in Iraq and Syria.
The annual appropriations process will resume after the November mid-term election, at which point the restart issue could be in play again.
At issue is the provision in the 2013 hours-of-service rule that requires drivers to take two periods off between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. during their 34-hour restart, and limits use of the restart to once a week.
Some members of ATA and shipping interests contend that the provision reduces productivity without improving safety.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, supported by some carriers, the Teamsters union and safety advocates, stands by the provision.
So far, the Senate has held some debate on a bill by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, that would suspend the restart for a year while the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration studies its impact.
And the House has considered a different approach that criticizes but does not suspend the restart. Under this approach, FMCSA would report its evidence for the once-a-week restriction on the restart, including an assessment of the effect of the restriction on safety.
If the restart suspension is not included in the appropriations bill that Congress must eventually pass, ATA will have the option of finding another home for it.
Osiecki declined to say if ATA would follow that path.
An obvious choice for such a tactic would be the bill to reauthorize the federal transportation program, which will include a title covering truck safety regulations.
That bill is due next May, when the current temporary highway program expires, although it is not clear that Congress will be prepared to make a decision on the funding portion of the bill by that time.
Meanwhile, the 34-hour restart provision remains in effect.