Congress returns to hammer out Highway Bill; fuel surcharge unresolved

| Monday, July 11, 2005

Fresh off their July Fourth holiday break, Congress returned to the Capitol Monday, July 11, to work on unfinished business.

Among the legislation up for discussion before lawmakers break again for their August recess are the Central American Free Trade Agreement, nine Senate appropriations measures, judicial nominations, and conference reports on the energy bill – HR6 – and the Highway Bill reauthorization – HR3.

A conference committee on the highway bill agreed to an extension earlier this month that gives them until Tuesday, July 19, to come up with a final version of the bill.

Two key issues – how much of the bill’s funding is covered by state equity calculations and the division of earmarked funds for highway projects between the House and the Senate – have yet to be resolved and have repeatedly stalled negotiators.

Mandatory fuel surcharge legislation, which was introduced as part of the House version of the highway bill but not the Senate’s, still remains in play.

Section 4139 of the House bill says that all motor carriers, brokers and freight forwarders running truckload freight MUST implement fuel surcharges and they MUST pass 100 percent of those surcharges through to the person who actually pays for the fuel.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is encouraging all truck drivers to contact their lawmakers to do whatever they can to make sure the fuel surcharge legislation is in the final version of the Highway Bill.

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