Past is Prologue: New Hours of Service Rules Challenged in Congress

Although they failed to pass the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development bill (perhaps appropriately referred to as “THUD”) before departing for recess, past is prologue yesterday as four Congressmen, Reps. Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.), Tom Rice (R-S.C.), Trey Radel (R-Fla.) and Todd Rokita (R-Ill.) introduced an amendment designed to block the new Hours of Service rules for trucking. The new rules, which the Supply Chain Collaborator blog has been covering (here, here and here), took effect on July 1st over the objections of trucking industry leaders and freight carriers.

The amendment offered by Hanna on July 31 seeks to block the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) from using appropriated funds to deploy or enforce the new rules. If passed, the amendment would in essence reset the HOS regulatory clock to June 30 and the previous rules, which didn’t mandate a daily 30-minute break and maintained less restrictive restart provisions for truck drivers ending their work weeks.

The amendment uses a strategy very similar to the tactics used by opponents of more stringent transportation regulations the last time such changes were proposed. According to the Journal of Commerce,

“Hanna’s approach — denying the use of funds to implement or pursue regulation — has been used by Congress before to quash hours of service changes. Republicans used a similar tactic to defeat a Clinton administration HOS proposal more than a decade ago. That impasse set the stage for the 11-hour rule released by the Bush administration in 2003.”

The Transportation industry will continue to operate under the new HOS rules for the time being. When Congress reconvenes in September, they will certainly take up the Transportation bill again. Look for Rep. Hanna’s amendment to be reintroduced into the bill again. After all, the strategy for undoing the HOS rules has been proven effective and may yet again succeed.

 

 

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