The House Appropriations committee on Tuesday approved the fiscal year 2017 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) funding bill. Policy riders that would roll back the hours of service restart rule to 2011, block continued work on a new safety fitness determination rule, and ensure uniform, federal labor rules for truckers all survived the expected opposition from some committee Democrats.
“This bill invests in critical national infrastructure to help move our people and products as safely and efficiently as possible. It prioritizes important programs and projects, making the best use of every transportation dollar,” House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers said.
The American Trucking Assns. applauded the committee’s efforts, note that the funding package addresses issues critical to the trucking industry that, without approval, “could have immediate impacts on the safety and efficiency of the trucking industry, and interstate commerce” across the U.S.
“In addition to allocating funding for important transportation projects, this legislation will ensure that commercial drivers can still utilize the 34-hour restart provision of the hours-of-service rules,” said ATA President and CEO Bill Graves.
ATA has also pushed for the enforcement of interstate commerce protections for truckers.
“Of paramount importance, this bill would clarify Congress’ objective that interstate trucking be governed by the federal government, not individual states, in order to prevent a patchwork of regulations that needlessly complicates the lives of millions of professional drivers,” said Dave Osiecki, ATA executive vice president of national advocacy. “Federal preemption of certain state laws, such as state rest break rules, helps to facilitate interstate commerce, benefitting consumers and the national economy, while also continuing to protect driver safety with uniform federal regulations.”
The Truck Safety Coalition expressed “disappointment” that the majority on the committee opposed an amendment offered by Rep. David Price (D-NC) to remove restart language and “other anti-safety riders” from the bill.
“I am frustrated that year after year, our lawmakers are more focused on inserting corporate earmarks into must-pass bills than passing data-driven safety solutions that will save lives and prevent injuries. Not only does this special interest handout, which will change a federal safety rule, have no place in an appropriations bill, it has no place in any bill,” Daphne Izer, founder of Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT), said. “The tired trucker provision has not been subject to any public scrutiny, committee hearings, or adequate safety review. Trucking industry lobbyists should not be able to use the appropriations process to drive their agendas, while everyday people like me are forced to wait years for meaningful safety reforms in the gridlocked legislative avenues available to the non-lobbying public.”
A vote by the full House has not been scheduled. The Senate passed its version of the THUD appropriation last week.