The U.S. Senate risked a
presidential veto on May 9 by adding $11 billion to the highway bill. Earlier
this year, President Bush threatened to veto any bill that went over the $284 billion
measure passed by the House in March.
The additional money includes
provisions to prevent fuel tax evasion and to move more money from the general
treasury fund to the highway fund.
Meanwhile, two provisions that
would directly affect members of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers
Association are still up in the air.
Rod Nofziger, OOIDA government
relations representative, said that the association is “still working and
exploring options in the Senate” to get the mandatory fuel surcharge legislation
introduced, in spite of some tough opposition.
“Some of the larger trucking
companies are securing the services of some pretty high-priced lobbyists in
town to oppose the legislation,” he said. “They have a vested interest in
keeping small-business truckers at a competitive disadvantage.”
Another portion of the highway
bill of concern to OOIDA members is the Hutchinson-Nelson amendment, which
would prevent tolls from being imposed on existing interstate highways.
Nofziger said insiders expect that
amendment to be introduced for a vote by May 11.
In the meantime, OOIDA is still
urging its members to fax and call – writing may not be fast enough – their
U.S. senators and urge them to include the mandatory fuel surcharge language
from the House version of the highway bill in the Senate’s version.
language in the House bill – HR3 at Section 4139 – requires all motor carriers,
brokers and freight forwarders running truckload freight to implement fuel
surcharges and pass on 100 percent of those charges to the person who actually
pays for the fuel.
truckers are uncertain who their senators are, they can contact OOIDA’s
Membership Department, and they will look up the information. The toll-free
OOIDA number is 1-800-444-5791.
can also call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121, give the operator
their ZIP code and be directly connected to their senator’s office.
- By Terry Scruton, senior