In a letter last week to President Clinton, Jim Johnston, president of Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Assn., pleaded for leadership on a bill to create a national fuel surcharge.
The surcharge is needed to forestall a catastrophe for small-business truckers as fuel prices rise this autumn, Johnson wrote.
"This bill would not cost the federal government one dime," Johnston wrote. "It would not expand the size of the government by even a single person. It would simply allow small business truckers to pass through their increased costs for diesel fuel to the beneficiaries of the transportation service, where they ultimately must go anyway."
The Motor Carrier Fuel Cost Equity Act of 2000 (H.R. 4441) was introduced earlier this year by Reps. Nick Rahall, D-WV, and Roy Blunt, R-Mo. It would require truckload carriers to levy a surcharge when fuel prices suddenly jump a significant amount.
The surcharge would have to be passed through to the trucker who provides the service, and it would not affect surcharges that already are in place. It also would allow larger companies to negotiate additional charges instead of imposing the surcharge.
The bill cleared the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee this summer but has not gone further. If it is not passed by this Congress, it must be reintroduced in the next.