Despite the defection of some conservative Republicans and solid opposition from Democrats, the House on Tuesday narrowly approved HR 2577, the T-HUD bill to fund the Transportation and Housing Departments for fiscal year 2016.
The $55.3 billion bill includes a number of policy riders sought by various segments of the trucking industry: an extension of the current rollback of the hours of service restart provisions, language to prohibit an increase in the minimum level of carrier financial responsibility, and permission for the use twin 33-foot trailers.
The Senate has yet to schedule action on the appropriation, and the White House has threatened to veto the bill because of its spending limits and numerous policy initiatives, including the trucking issues.
The American Trucking Assns. is lauding the House for passing a T-HUD bill with provisions that it says are critical for improving the safety and efficiency of the trucking industry.
“By including language requiring a more robust study of the hours-of-service restart restrictions originally imposed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in July 2013, and a modest increase in the length of some truck combinations, the House has taken an important step in improving the safety of our highways, first and foremost, but also the efficiency of our highway system and the industry that moves nearly 70% of the nation’s goods,” said ATA president and CEO Bill Graves.
The bill requires FMCSA to demonstrate the July 2013 hours-of-service restart restrictions truly improve the health and safety of professional drivers, ATA said.
In addition, the legislation includes a provision that would allow carriers to utilize twin 33-foot trailers – improving capacity and safety, without increasing truck weight limits, ATA said. “This modest change will reduce the number of truck trips needed to move the nation’s freight, cut emissions and reduce trucking’s exposure to crashes,” according to ATA.
“The House has shown tremendous leadership in passing this bill and putting forward these important provisions,” Graves said. “And we now call upon the Senate to quickly pass a bill that follows that lead. Despite the ongoing misinformation campaign by critics of businesses in general and trucking in particular, these two provisions will make our highways safer and ensure our country’s economy is served by an efficient supply chain.”
Read more about the T-HUD bill and its impact on trucking.