House appropriators on Tuesday advanced a transportation spending bill after beating back a Democratic amendment that would have stripped controversial trucking policy riders from the measure, according to The Hill. The House Appropriations Committee endorsed the fiscal 2017 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development spending bill by voice vote, sending the legislation to the floor.
Before approving the bill, lawmakers rejected, by a vote of 19-28, a bid by Rep. David Price (D-N.C.) to remove several policy riders he considers to be poison pills from the measure.
Price’s amendment would have removed language placing additional requirements on the DOT before it can implement a regulation that tweaks the 34-hour “restart” period for commercial truck drivers — an amount of off-duty time that drivers must take in order to reset their driving limit after they reach their maximum.
The proposed regulation would require every restart period to include two nights in that break, with no driving between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m., as well as only allow truckers to use one restart per week.
But appropriators again included language in this year’s spending bill requiring DOT to prove that that regulation is beneficial to drivers’ health and safety before they can implement it.
“These new requirements will end up costing millions of dollars and take more than a decade to complete,” Price said.
His amendment also would have removed provisions preempting state laws on commercial trucking meal and rest breaks and barring funds from being used in California on the construction of a high-speed rail system.
The trucking issue could come up again during floor debate, but lawmakers will have to submit their amendments ahead of time thanks to a new effort by Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to prevent surprise incidents.
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Editor's Insight: A Congressional study of the 34-hour restart regulations is currently under review by the Department of Transportation, according to Overdrive. The study’s goal is to determine the safety viability of allowing truckers to split their off-duty time into segments rather than the existing requirement that it be 10 consecutive hours or a limited split period of two hours and eight hours.
Fleets, owner-operators and drivers have argued for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to return to allowing truckers greater flexibility in how they split their off-duty time. 5-26-16 By Elliot Maras