Port security bill approved with trucking amendment

| 10/2/2006

A bill that contains language OOIDA officials helped craft is on its way to President Bush’s desk to be signed into law.

On Saturday, the bill – which includes controls on foreign truckers operating in the U.S. – emerged from a House and Senate conference committee on its way to the president.

Much of the bill deals with security at the nation’s ports.

Sen. Mark Pryor, D-AR, and Sen. Jim Talent, R-MO, worked with OOIDA to get an amendment in place to improve trucking security.

The amendment will force the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to create a roadside inspection program to assure that foreign truckers are operating legally in the U.S.

The amendment also requires the FMCSA to verify an applicant’s citizenship or legal status in the U.S. before he or she can be issued a CDL, and it requires that anti-fraud measures be put in place to assure that CDL applicants can’t simply pay someone a bribe to get a license.

“Federal transportation officials have known about the fraud and abuse that occurs within the system, but they have done very little to fix the situation,” Pryor said in a press release issued after the bill was approved. “My measure forces them to take action and close the existing loopholes that threaten highway safety and national security.”

Rod Nofziger, OOIDA director of government affairs in Washington, DC, said the trucking provision went even further in its language than originally anticipated.

“It was where we wanted to get to, but it goes further than we had anticipated,” Nofziger told Land Line Magazine.

The original bill asked for the Secretary of Homeland Security to issue guidelines regarding immigration and customs laws that apply to foreign-based trucks and truckers.

Language added to the bill calls on FMCSA to do education outreach with motor-carrier safety enforcement, a program highlighted in the 2005 highway bill, known as SAFETEA-LU.

“So, now there’s a direct line between homeland security, cabotage and immigration laws and FMCSA,” Nofziger said.

Not all non-port provisions made it into the final bill, but Nofziger said OOIDA members should be pleased that the Association’s input made it all the way through.

“Everything else was wiped out except for ours,” he said. “It was significant. We can certainly attribute that somewhat to a lot of the folks from our ranks heeding our call to action and jumping in the fray.”