Rep. Frank Wolf is calling on his congressional colleagues to reject a Senate attempt to squelch a proposal to reform the hours of service rules.
In a letter, the Virginia Republican said that the Department of Transportation should be allowed to continue the rulemaking process.
“Congress should not work to stop this proposed rulemaking before DOT has had time to gather data and comments from interested parties, analyze the over 1,000 comments a day it is receiving, or develop revisions to the current proposal,” Wolf wrote.
“Thwarting these activities will ensure that the status quo persists. Over 5,000 lives will continue to be lost each year by unsafe trucks.”
Wolf is reacting to a provision in the Senate’s DOT appropriations bill that would cut off funding for the rulemaking process. That provision was inserted at the urging of American Trucking Associations, which is trying to either kill the process or force DOT to reopen negotiations over the rules.
Clyde Hart, acting chief of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, told Congress on June 22 that a negotiated rulemaking is not possible.
The Senate bill must be reconciled with the House bill, which does not contain this provision. Wolf chairs the House Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, and will be the House manager of the conference.
Supporting Wolf is Rep. James L. Oberstar, D-MN, who wrote, “I believe that the rule proposed by DOT is a major step in the right direction.”
Both Wolf and Oberstar acknowledge that the proposed rule needs to be changed. Trucking interests have testified that the proposal is extremely expensive and may not, in fact, improve safety.
But the congressmen also say that the need for change does not justify stopping the process.
The House-Senate conference on the appropriations bill has not yet been scheduled.