House Funding Bill Contains Hours-of-Service Fix, No Safety Fitness Determination Delay

The U.S. House of Representatives released the text of their short-term Continuing Resolution (CR). Within the text, was a fix to a drafting error dealing with drivers’ hours-of-service (HOS), from last year’s all-encompassing spending package, and no delay to the Safety Fitness Determination (SFD) rulemaking.

“These are significant wins for the industry. The HOS drafting error could have eliminated the restart provision altogether. The CR language will return sanity to this process,” said Bob Voltmann, President & CEO, TIA. “The SFD Rulemaking needs to move forward so that FMCSA can tell the industry which motor carriers are unsafe. We need to end the “got ya” system of courts second-guessing the safety fitness of carriers that FMCSA allows to operate. Congress is to be applauded for their work.”

The CR did not include a delay to the TIA supported Safety Fitness Determination rulemaking. TIA has been actively lobbying Congress to remove the delay language that was included in the Fiscal Year 2017 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) appropriations bill. FMCSA has indicated that it will wait until the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) report (required by the FAST Act) is completed before moving forward with a Final Rule, but this ensures that a Congressional delay would not further restrict implementing this important rulemaking.

The HOS language bars the Agency from using funds to implement, administer, and enforce the 1:00 a.m. - 5:00 a.m. and 168 provisions. These provisions do not come back into effect even if the Agency completes the previously ordered study (the aforementioned drafting error). It does state that these rules could become effective again, if the DOT IG certifies they have a statistical and positive effect on motor carrier safety, which is highly unlikely.  

Both Chambers are expected to pass the CR by the end of the week. The CR will prevent a Government shutdown and continue funding for federal programs and services until April 28, 2017.