The Republican-controlled House is speeding toward a conflict with the Department of Transportation that could scuttle changes to trucker hours of service rules.
In an Oct. 5 letter, Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., urged President Obama to withdraw the DOT’s proposed rule. They noted the White House estimates the proposal would add $1 billion in costs for “not only the trucking industry, but every business shipping and receiving goods.”
Boehner is the highest-ranking Republican to come out in direct opposition to the controversial proposal that would cut the hours truckers can work each day.
Last week, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chair John Mica, R-Fla., who attacked the HOS proposal in sharply worded letter to Obama. Mica said Congress would “aggressively oversee” any attempt to impose “new regulatory burdens” on business and urged DOT to drop the HOS proposal.
Trucking and shipping groups intensified lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill as a DOT draws closer to an Oct. 28 deadline for publishing a final HOS regulation.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration hasn’t said whether it will seek to reduce the 11-hours driving limit that has been in place since 2004, but many in the transportation industry believe the agency will take the limit down to 10 hours. Republican opposition to changing the hours rules may run into a Senate roadblock, but it could play a significant role in negotiations over the next highway bill.
House Republicans could insert language into the multi-year spending bill preserving the current rules and the 11-hour daily driving limit. In 2000, Republicans blocked a Clinton administration HOS proposal by stripping funding for it. In 2004, Congress stepped in to preserve the 11-hour limit.