logo

Truck Renting and Leasing Association

The unified voice for truck renting and leasing


Blog

House Passes Six-Year Highway Reauthorization Bill

Today, the United States House of Representatives voted 363-64 to approve a six-year reauthorization of the federal surface transportation program.  Furthermore, passage of this bill allows for the House and Senate to move immediately into a conference on the differing provisions between their two bills before the current authorization for the highway bill expires near the end of this month.  TRALA was pleased that several of its top priority issues were included in the House legislation. 




Today, the United States House of Representatives voted 363-64 to approve a six-year reauthorization of the federal surface transportation program.  Furthermore, passage of this bill allows for the House and Senate to move immediately into a conference on the differing provisions between their two bills before the current authorization for the highway bill expires near the end of this month.  TRALA was pleased that several of its top priority issues were included in the House legislation. 

The House bill, H.R. 3763 authored by Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA), authorizes 6 years of funding, addresses a significant problem involving the requirement to offer meal breaks to drivers in California, calls for a study by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) on the Minimum Financial Responsibility for motor carriers, and does not expand the tolling of existing interstates.    Additionally, this bill does not include an increase in the Federal Excise Tax (FET), which potentially could have been used as a way to pay for an increasingly larger shortfall in the Highway Trust Fund (HTF).
 
TRALA and its partners worked diligently to get a bipartisan amendment added to correct an overreach by the Ninth Circuit Court, which would require mandatory meal and rest breaks for interstate trucks operating in California.  TRALA authored an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year in support of member-company Penske Truck Leasing Company regarding this issue but the court declined to take up the case.  This issue has commonly been referred to as FAAAA and because of the Ninth Circuit decision, has required a Congressional fix.  TRALA and its allies lobbied Congress and subsequently had Representatives Jeff Denham (R-CA), Corrine Brown (D-FL), Ryan Costello (R-PA), and Brad Ashford (D-NE) author an amendment which would pre-empt any state which seeks to create a separate law for meal and rest breaks for motor-carriers operating in interstate commerce.  This amendment was adopted into the final bill by a vote of 248-180.  You may see the Denham amendment by clicking here.  TRALA was pleased that the House understood the importance of this fix, and it will continue to push for this language to be included in the final conference report.
 
Another issue of importance to TRALA members is minimum insurance requirements.  This year Congress, through the Appropriations process and in the highway bill, has attempted to make changes to a report being conducted by the FMCSA on the Minimum Financial Responsibility for motor-carriers at the urging of TRALA and others in our industry.  Unfortunately, these efforts have not become law.  This report could substantially increase the amount of insurance required, despite little evidence that an increase is needed.  Of greater concern for TRALA is that private carriers would be covered under the insurance mandate for the first time ever as before now the minimums only impacted for-hire carriers.  Given that TRALA members' customers would have to possess higher insurance, it makes no sense for lessors to also carry such high premiums.  After meeting with FMCSA on multiple occasions, TRALA decided to focus its energy on Congress as a way to remedy the potential problem.  
 
TRALA, along with other trucking groups, worked with Chairman Shuster to include language in the base text instructing FMCSA to take into consideration when writing its final report the impact any increase would have on the motor carrier industry and if higher insurance levels are necessary to meet current claims.  During floor debate, two amendments were offered which would have stripped these instructions from the base text, one by Rep. Lois Frankel (D-FL) and another by Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA).  Both of these amendments were defeated, due in large part to the efforts of TRALA and its allies.   
 
There were other industry issues accepted in the amendment process which included a provision that would strip out the Senate language that involves rental recall.  That amendment was ultimately changed and the rental recall language was re-inserted into the final House bill.  The House bill does include a provision that was accepted that would essentially exempt new vehicle dealers from the law if their primary business is not renting vehicles.  In addition, an amendment was accepted that ensures the EPA gives equal preference to natural gas vehicles in promulgating regulations as it does for electric vehicles.
 
As the House and Senate moves to conference and begins to negotiate on the differences between their two bills, TRALA will continue to push for its priorities to be included in the final version that is sent to the President's desk. 
 
You may see the House bill in its entirety by clicking here.  Once on this site, you can navigate and view any amendments adopted or offered as well as the overall text of the House legislation.
 
If you have any questions regarding the highway bill, please contact Andrew Stasiowski at astasiowski@trala.org or at 703-299-9120.
 
 

###