Acting in bipartisan fashion, as it often does, the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure approved two bills on May 24 intended to make it easier for military personnel and veterans to obtain Commercial Driver Licenses. Both expand on initiatives aimed at helping vets become truckers that were included in the FAST Act highway bill that became law in 2015.
The Active Duty Voluntary Acquisition of Necessary Credentials for Employment (ADVANCE) Act (H.R. 2258) would exempt active duty military and reserve personnel “with qualifying experience” from certain testing requirements when they seek to obtain a CDL. The bill was introduced by Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-CA).
The ADVANCE Act has been endorsed by the American Trucking Associations and the Association of the United States Navy, which lobbies Congress on behalf of active, former and retired USN sailors.
“This is a common-sense measure that will help our brave men and women find work here in the Inland Empire,” said Rep. Aguilar in a statement. “While we hear every day that Washington is broken and compromised by partisan gridlock, we can clearly see that there are issues that both parties can get behind.”
The second bill (H.R. 2547) expands the Veterans Expanded Trucking Opportunities (VETOPPS) legislation, which passed as part of the FAST Act, by allowing additional medical professionals in the Veterans Administration system, such as advanced practice nurses and physician assistants, who are qualified for listing on the National Registry to use a new online training course “so that VA physicians can become certified to conduct DOT physicals without excessive financial and travel requirements.” The bill was introduced by Reps. Rob Woodall (R-GA) and Julia Brownley (D-CA).
According to the House committee, since only 33% of certified medical examiners are medical doctors, opening this program up to the other 67% of qualified medical professionals within the VA system will increase access and reduce wait times for veterans.
Support for this measure came across several fronts, including the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association, the American Academy of Physicians Assistants, the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, and the American Legion.
“The original VETOPPS Act [passed as part of the FAST Act] was a direct response to a bureaucratic problem standing in the way of our veterans being able to quickly return to work and support their families,” said Rep. Woodall. “I was proud to lead in the effort that resulted in a solution becoming the law of the land, but when we see ways to improve upon the ways we’re serving veterans even further, we absolutely want to seize that opportunity. That’s what H.R. 2547 is all about, and I’m grateful to Chairman Shuster, Ranking Member DeFazio, Rep. Brownley, and my colleagues on this committee for their support.”
“I constantly hear from industry about the need for new truck drivers, who are critical to moving goods and keeping our economy rolling,” said Rep. Brownley. “This bill will help address both these problems and I look forward to working with my colleague, Mr. Woodall, to further advance the bill and get it to the President’s desk.”