The House Appropriations Committee on Dec. 6 released a Continuing Resolution funding the government through April 28 that contains a critical provision the trucking industry has sought for nearly a year. If enacted, the legislation would maintain the current 34-hour restart provision in the federal Hours-of-Service rule pending the results of a Congressionally mandated study.
Democrats and President Obama are expected to oppose the policy rider. It is unclear, however, whether the Administration would risk a government shutdown by threatening to veto the measure.
A measure signed by the President in December 2015 included a provision that was designed to suspend a requirement that drivers rest for two consecutive nights from 1 a.m. - 5 a.m. if they want to avail themselves of the 34-hour "restart" provision under the hours-of-service rules. That measure also called for a study confirming that requiring two consecutive nights of rest improved safety and driver health before the provision took effect.
In what many consider to be a drafting error, that legislation failed to specify that the industry would continue to operate under the current hours-of-service regime, and has been interpreted as requiring drivers to revert back to an older, more arcane and less manageable system.
The Congressional "fix" that was included in the spending legislation released on Dec. 6 would enable drivers to take a 34-hour rest to restart their hours-of-service clock while still operating under the current hours-of-service regime. Without this language, the ability of drivers to take a 34-hour rest would go away and the industry would be subject to weekly work limits of 60 hours in seven days and 70 hours in eight days.
This issue has been a top priority for trucking interests throughout 2016.
The trucking industry, including the American Trucking Associations, Truckload Carriers Association and Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, maintain that it was never the intention of lawmakers to do away with the current 34-hour restart.
New ATA President and CEO Chris Spear thanked Congress for including the HOS restart fix in the CR. “The entire industry will now be able to comply with this rule thanks to a common sense approach championed by a bipartisan group of legislators,” he said.
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