U.S. senators may or may not vote on an annual transportation appropriations bill when they return from the 4th of July recess. Even if they do, their version of the bill differs in key areas from one the House passed in early June. The House and Senate’s respective versions contain differing language on motor carrier insurance requirements, electronic logs and speed limiters.
The House of Representatives has already passed its version of HR2577 for Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD). That occurred on June 9. OOIDA and small-business truckers won a victory in that version because it contained language to prohibit the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration from pursuing an increase to insurance requirements for motor carriers.
The House version also chose not to expedite mandates for electronic logging devices or speed limiters, which – like the insurance issue – are items opposed by OOIDA and small-business truckers but supported by large carriers and the American Trucking Associations.
The Senate version of HR2577 has not yet gone to a floor vote, but at the committee level the Senate Appropriations Committee offered its own language on insurance requirements and a push to expedite rulemakings on electronic logging devices and speed limiters.
Specific to the insurance issue, the Senate version says FMCSA may continue pursuing an increase to insurance requirements, but only if the Department of Transportation secretary reports to the Appropriations Committee about the effects of raising the financial responsibility. The report would have to include an assessment of crashes that exceed the damage limits and assess the effects of higher insurance premiums on large and small motor carriers.
While hardly a glowing endorsement for increasing insurance requirements, the Senate version of HR2577 does not prohibit an increase as the House version does.
Congress has a lot on its plate this summer in addition to the THUD appropriations bill, such as a multiyear surface transportation bill – where some of the same issues could show up.
The House and Senate must agree to all terms before a bill can truly pass and be sent to the president’s desk to be signed into law.
As has happened in the past, a THUD appropriations bill may not pass as a stand-alone bill in the Senate and could instead become part of larger package – known as an omnibus – in the fall along with other appropriations bills that have not yet passed.
OOIDA will remain engaged with lawmakers and inform members of the Association about any Calls to Action that may arise as the appropriations process or other transportation bills demand.
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