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Partisan Procedural Objections Halt Action on HOS Amendment

Friday, June 20, 2014  
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Debate on an amendment to an expansive fiscal 2015 funding bill that would have rolled back a suspension to a rule limiting the time truckers can operate on roadways came to a halt after the Democratic and Republican leaders in the Senate announced they could not agree on how to proceed with the bill.

Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) pulled the comprehensive spending bill from the floor June 19 over procedural objections raised by members in the minority. Reid did not indicate when he would seek to reschedule consideration of the amendment or the bill.

Under Senate rules, a senator can object to the way legislation is considered on the floor. To overcome such objections, sometimes a simple majority of senators is required or 60 votes.

Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican Leader, said a path forward to proceed with the legislation proposed by Reid denied senators in the minority an opportunity to offer amendments to the legislative package. The argument between the two leaders then turned sour, prompting Reid to table the funding bill and proceed with a different matter.

This week, New Jersey Democrat Cory Booker proposed to undo a provision in the spending bill denying funding to last year’s changes to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s hours-of-service restart rules.

The provision was offered by Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, and it was adopted earlier this month at a committee hearing by a 21-9 bipartisan vote. The FMCSA’s hours-of-service rule took that took effect last July mandates truck drivers to have a 34-hour resting period between workweeks and account for two 1 a.m.-to-5 a.m. periods during that restart time off.

On the floor, Collins said her proposal seeks to improve highway safety and noted she was “very disappointed to see that the senator from New Jersey is otherwise engaged and not listening” to her comments.