The DOT bill released by the Senate Appropriations Committee made no mention of changes to trucking-related policy reforms — such as the ELD (Electronic Logging Device) mandate and driver breaks.

The Senate’s bill differs from the version of the bill released by the House Appropriations Committee.

The bill that was passed by the House included proposed changes to the FMCSA-mandated ELD compliance date for livestock haulers.

The House bill also prevented the FMCSA from pursuing with the SFD (Safety Fitness Determination) rule without first implementing the required CSA (Compliance, Safety, Accountability) program reforms by NASEM (National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine).

The Senate’s appropriations bill, which was released last July 27, 2017, has been sent to the full Senate for amendments and consideration. Here, legislators can opt to add or amend articles related to driver break periods and ELD legislations into the bill.

If both chambers of the Congress pass bills that are different from each other, legislators from both chambers have to produce a unified bill. Currently, both chambers have yet to indicate a timeline for when they would meet should the bills be unidentical.

Reforms on trucking policies could also be added during the conferring process.

What was in the house bill?

The transportation subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee recently passed a USDOT (United States Department of Transportation) funding bill. This subcommittee House bill was released just a few days before the Senate released their side of the appropriations bill.

The bill passed by the House Appropriations Committee asked a one-year extension for livestock haulers to adopt the FMCSA’s electronic logging device mandate. The bill also included the Denham Amendment provision.

Additionally, the House bill also prevented the FMCSA from pursuing a Safety Fitness Determination rule until the required CSA reforms are implemented by the agency. It is also important to mention that the House Appropriations Committee also advised the FMCSA to study whether or not a full or targeted delay of the ELD mandate would be appropriate.

What is in the senate bill?

Unlike the bill passed by the House, the Senate’s appropriation bill makes little mention of any major provisions that heavily impact the trucking industry.

The bill, instead, focuses on general matters as a whole, and it mostly indicates deadlines that the FMCSA is mandated to comply with.

For instance, the Senate Appropriations Committee directs the FMCSA to modify or remove the proposed rule before October 1, 2017, as to have any outstanding issues resolved. The Committee gave the deadline because of its concern that the FMCSA failed to complete the rule’s review to resolve petitioner issues while ensuring the rule still targets unsafe carriers appropriately.

Other than that, the Senate Appropriations Committee also directs the FMCSA to fully address all public comments regarding the joint proposed rule with NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) on speed limiter devices released last August 26, 2016.

The final rule is required to address the impacts of speed differentials on highways and should include the cost-benefit analysis of applying the rule for trucks already equipped with these speed-limiting devices.

The other points raised by the Senate Appropriations Committee includes reports on information management systems, high-risk carrier reviews, and natural gas regulation consideration.

The bill also had two amendments regarding truck size and weight limits in New Hampshire and North Dakota. They would allow trucks weighing up to 99,000 pounds to operate in New Hampshire and up to 129,000 pounds in North Dakota.

What’s next?

Based on the fact that the DOT bill by Senate skips changes related to the ELD mandate, chances are good that the ELD mandate deadline would be implemented as scheduled. If you have not yet equipped your fleet with electronic logging devices, try Motive.

The Motive ELD is FMCSA-registered, feature-rich, and affordable. If you have any questions, call 844-325-9230 for more information.