Truckers are not specifically mentioned in the proposed federal stimulus package, but they are in line to benefit from the job creation and economic relief contained within.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed its $819 billion version of the stimulus bill on Wednesday, Jan. 28, by a vote of 244 in favor and 188 against. The U.S. Senate has been working on its own versions and will take the House provisions under consideration.
“The amount of spending on infrastructure in this bill and the consistent ‘buy America’ provisions in this bill should create opportunities for truckers,” Mike Joyce, director of legislative affairs for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association told Land Line Magazine.
“If we’re putting money and resources into new roads and bridges and rehabilitating schools and overall infrastructure improvements, somebody has got to truck those products to those locations. We’re hopeful that a stimulus bill will stimulate manufacturing and create opportunities for truckers.”
The House version contains $30 billion for highway improvements as part of a $43 billion appropriation to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
“Congress is focused on ‘shovel ready’ projects – projects that can be done within the first 120 days or so,” Joyce recently told Land Line Now on XM Satellite Radio.
In addition to the obvious benefits of better infrastructure, truckers also stand to haul the freight associated with job creation, the boosts to the agriculture and forestry industries, new housing construction, improvements to government and school facilities, and the expansion of the energy grid.
“Truckers are going to be the lifeblood of this economic recovery,” Joyce said.
Democrats and Republicans continue to debate the contents of the bill and how much to allot for direct spending and tax relief.
President Obama consulted with Republicans before the House vote, something Joyce sees as a significant step toward bipartisanship.
“The bottom line is, the dynamic that is happening right now is a political dynamic,” Joyce said.
“There was not a single Republican that voted for this bill in the House. The Senate Republicans are in a delicate position right now. If they stall this bill and the economy continues to tank, the Obama administration and the Democrats could point to that as a reason the economy hasn’t recovered.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-CA, said she would like the economic recovery package to become law by Feb. 13.
– By David Tanner, staff writer