House Introduces 5 Year Reauthorization of the Highway Bill
Today, the Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Peter DeFazio (D-OR) introduced The Invest in America Act.
This bill is a 5-year reauthorization of the Surface Transportation programs also known as the highway bill. The house bill authorizes $547 billion in spending for roads, bridges, passenger, rail, and transit programs, and includes much of what was included in the house highway bill from last Congress. Of particular interest to TRALA are several provisions which were included in last years highway bill, including an increase in the minimum insurance requirements for commercial trucks, a truck leasing task force, the strengthening of rear impact guards, and a voluntary national pilot program for a Vehicle Miles Traveled tax (VMT). While all of these issues were expected to be included in this bill, TRALA has been actively pushing back on the insurance increase for over a month and has discussed its concerns with the truck leasing task force since it was in the highway bill last Congress.
Section 4408 calls for an increase of the minimum insurance for commercial carriers operating in interstate commerce from $750,000 to $2 million. Furthermore, this section would be adjusted to inflation every 5 years. TRALA, along with its allies, have already heard from Rep. Mike Bost (R-IL), that he will offer an amendment to strike these increases from the bill, and TRALA will be working to gain Democratic support for this amendment. In addition to the insurance increase, this bill includes Section 4305 which establishes a truck leasing task force focusing on truck leasing agreements available to commercial drivers. This issue came into focus due to labor disputes at several ports in California and is a priority issue for Congresswoman Grace Napolitano (D-CA). While the truck leasing agreements focused on in this bill is not a business model done by TRALA members, TRALA remains concerned about this task force and its potential to look beyond truck leasing agreements.
Section 4404 requires the Secretary of Transportation to issue within one year a regulation requiring rear impact guards be equipped on all new trailers and semi-trailers, that are capable of prevent an intrusion from a passenger car traveling 35 miles per hour. Furthermore, this section calls for an additional study by the Secretary of Transportation on the feasibility and effectiveness of side underride guards. Finally, Section 5402 creates a national voluntary pilot program to test a VMT. This pilot program is similar to the program authorized in the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) highway bill, as they both call for a national voluntary pilot program for passenger cars and commercial vehicles. Additionally, like the Senate version, this provision calls for the Secretary of the Treasury to establish the per mile fee.
Unlike the Senate EPW bill which moved with bipartisan support, the House version is expected to be less bipartisan, as Republicans on the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee have already introduced a substitute version of this bill. TRALA expects a markup on this bill to be held next week, and it expects there to be a lot of amendments offered during the markup. You may view the full highway bill by clicking here and a section-by-section summary of the bill by clicking here. If you have any questions or concerns about this bill please contact Andrew Stasiowski at firstname.lastname@example.org or Jake Jacoby at email@example.com or by calling (703)299-9120.