President Donald Trump signed into law on Monday, Jan. 8, a bill that aims to streamline the process by which active-duty military, reservists and veterans receive commercial driver’s licenses.
The bill (S1393), which was originally sponsored by Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, amends the FAST Act to allow health professionals employed by the Department of Veterans Affairs to be considered a “qualified examiner” for Department of Transportation physicals. S1393 passed the Senate in September. The House passed the bill on Dec. 21.
“This bill shows our veterans that after all of their hard work defending our nation, after everything they’ve sacrificed for us, we have their backs,” Cornyn said in a news release. “Now that this bill has been signed into law, veterans will be able to more easily transfer the commercial driving skills they’ve honed in the military to civilian life, and therefore more easily find jobs that pair well with their skillset.”
The FAST Act, which passed in 2015, directed the Secretary of Transportation to establish a streamlined set of standards for veterans applying for a CDL. However, the FAST Act didn’t include active-duty members of military and reservists in their application of standards for veterans with previous training in military driving.
To correct this, the DOT granted a two-year exemption allowing states to waive the CDL knowledge test for current service members, reservists and national guardsmen if they completed military heavy-training programs and had been regularly employed in a military position requiring the operation of heavy vehicles and had been regularly employed in a military position requiring the operation of heavy vehicles within the year prior to their application.
The Jobs for Our Heroes Act, which is bipartisan legislation, makes the two-year exemption permanent.
The bill also makes it easier for veterans to receive a DOT physical as it allows all qualified VA medical professionals, including advanced practice nurses and physician assistants, to be added to the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners. Rep. Rob Woodall, R-Ga., originally introduced this portion of the bill’s language.
“This bill has always been about crafting a commonsense, bipartisan solution that provides opportunities for our veterans returning to the civilian workforce as quickly as possible while also filling much-needed positions within the trucking industry,” Woodall said in a news release. “These kinds of seemingly small, targeted solutions may not always make the front page news, but they make a big difference in the lives of those affected.”
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