FMCSA responds to inquiry into veterans provision

By Mark Schremmer, Land Line staff writer | Thursday, May 19, 2016

In response to a congressman’s inquiry, the acting administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said the agency is working to implement a statute that will make it more convenient for military veterans to receive medical certification for the operation of commercial motor vehicles.

The FMCSA’s Scott Darling wrote to Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., on May 18, responding to an April letter that asked about the progress of a statute in the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act that allows physicians from the Department of Veterans Affairs to perform medical examinations and provide medical certificates to veterans.

“FMCSA will soon meet with officials from the VA to discuss implementation of (FAST Act) Section 5403,” Darling wrote. “Shortly thereafter, the Agency will begin planning changes to its National Registry information technology system to enable the listing of VA qualified physicians in accordance with Section 5403 of the FAST Act.”

Darling said he expects the FMCSA to publish a rulemaking notice later this year.

“FMCSA has also established a team to begin the rulemaking process for adopting regulations to implement Section 5403,” he wrote. “The rulemaking would codify the process that would be used to ensure the VA physicians are familiar with FMCSA’s standards and physical qualifications of commercial motor vehicle operators, as required by statute. The rule would also address the statutory requirement for removal from the National Registry if a VA physician is found to have acted fraudulently, including by fraudulently awarding a medical certificate.”

The intent of the provision is to make it easier for veterans to enter the trucking industry.

“A career in commercial trucking is a natural fit for many veterans, especially those who are entering or returning to the workforce, and military families across the nation are relying on the prompt implementation of this provision,” Shuster and fellow Reps. Rob Woodall, R-Ga., and Tim Walz, D-Minn., wrote to Darling in April. “By including Section 5403 in the FAST Act, Congress made its position clear: Regulatory barriers that make it needlessly difficult for veterans to secure jobs in the trucking industry should be eliminated.”

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