Latest News: Latest News

House Passes $1 Trillion Funding Bill Containing Suspension of HOS Restart Provision

Friday, December 12, 2014  
Share |
The U.S. House passed a $1 trillion funding bill late Dec. 11 containing a provision that would suspend federal limits on truckers’ weekly work schedules.

By a 219 to 206 vote, the GOP majority, with assistance from moderate Democrats, passed the measure. A vote scheduled for earlier in the day was delayed after Democratic leaders strongly objected to a financial provision that would reverse a part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street regulation law.

House negotiators worked into the night to garner enough support to advance the bill to the Senate, which will debate it Dec. 12. Both the House and Senate, by unanimous consents, passed a two-day continuing funding resolution to prevent a government shutdown.

Earlier, by a 214 to 212 vote on Dec. 11, the House adopted a procedural rule to proceed with the omnibus spending package. That vote’s slim margin suggested a degree of uncertainty for passing the bill.

Opposition arose from a group of conservative Republicans and Democrats and the vote was delayed due to a call for recess from the chair, which lasted seven hours.

Funding leaders successfully attached many policy riders to the omnibus, including language that would suspend for the remainder of fiscal 2015 a requirement that drivers take off two consecutive periods of 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. during a 34-hour restart.

The provision, introduced by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) this year, also would require the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to study the rule’s safety benefits, “which shall be subject to an independent peer review by a panel of individuals with relevant medical and scientific expertise."

Rep. Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.), a member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said he was “pleased that my colleagues in both chambers agree that there are legitimate concerns with the 34-hour restart rule. Federal agencies should have an obligation to prove that new rules and regulations do not cause more harm than good — in terms of both safety and costs.”

In this Congress, Hanna introduced legislation that would require FMCSA to conduct an extensive review of its restart rules. The Collins proposal is strongly backed by trucking industry leaders at American Trucking Associations.

On Dec. 10, during a House committee debate on the omnibus, Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), said that advancing Collins’ proposal would “make our roads less safe.” Rep. Nita Lowey of New York, the top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, added she “wished all of the riders would’ve been dropped” from the omnibus.

The Obama administration, several Democrats and a few consumer protection groups have opposed Collins’ proposal.

The new hours-of-service provision that took effect July 2013 allows truck drivers who reach a maximum 70 hours of driving within a week to resume their work if they account for 34 consecutive hours of rest. That restart period must include at least two nights from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m.

The omnibus also includes a bill that would allow members of multi-employer pension plans to vote to approve cuts in vested benefits suggested by the plan trustees. The proposal is meant to avert potential bailouts by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.

By Transport Topics