House Transportation Committee Passes Highway Bill and Senate Commerce Committee Introduces their Surface Transportation Bill
Yesterday, the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure completed its markup and passed H.R. 3684 the INVEST in America Act along a party line vote.
The bill is a 5-year reauthorization of the surface transportation program, commonly 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 year's 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).
TRALA has been working with a coalition of stakeholders for the past two months to push back on efforts to increase the insurance minimum from $750,000 to $2 million, that was ultimately included in Section 4408 of this bill. The coalition was able to get an amendment offered by Representative Mike Bost (R-IL) which would strike this increase and maintain the insurance minimum at $750,000. Despite the overwhelming evidence that the current rates cover 99% of all crashes involving commercial motor vehicles, all Democrats on the committee and one Republican Representative Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) supported this increase which is a give away to trial lawyers. TRALA and its coalition will work hard to ensure that the Bost amendment is included in the Rules package when the full House considers the INVEST in America Act, however it is likely that this increase will have to be stopped in the Senate. TRALA expects the full House to consider the INVEST in America Act before the summer recess and it will continue to push back on efforts to more than double the insurance on commercial motor carriers. You may view the full highway bill by clicking here.
In addition to the T&I Committee markup the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation introduced their portion of the highway bill. This is the second Senate committee to introduce their portion of the highway bill after the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW) passed their committee bill in May.
The Senate Commerce Committee bill includes several provisions impacting the truck renting and leasing industry. Specifically, the commerce bill included the authorization of a truck leasing task force that is similar to the House version, but with a slightly larger focus on leasing agreements with drivers and owner operators. Furthermore, the Senate bill requires motor vehicle safety standard and accompanying performance requirements for automatic emergency braking systems for heavy-duty commercial motor vehicles. The Senate version also included House language on the strengthening of rear impact guards. Finally, the Senate version did not include an increase in the minimum insurance rates for commercial motor vehicles that was included in the INVEST in America Act.
The Senate Commerce Committee has announced it will hold a mark-up of the highway bill next week on June 16, where it will likely pass. You may view the commerce committee's bill by clicking here. The Senate will still need multiple committees to introduce and pass their sections of the highway bill before a full reauthorization can be considered on the Senate floor. If you have any questions or concerns on either highway bill, please contact Andrew Stasiowski at email@example.com or Jake Jacoby at firstname.lastname@example.org.