On Capitol Hill, the U.S. House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday approved a bill that includes funding for the Department of Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and other related agencies. The House committee’s legislation includes several important trucking provisions.
One of them clarifies and extends the prohibition on the 2013 changes to the 34-hour restart rule. The language eliminates the most recent 34-hour restart provision for truckers and reverts to the 2011 rule. The committee’s version would allow truckers to use the restart as often as they want with no requirement to get two consecutive night’s sleep between the hours of 1 a.m. and 5 a.m.
The bill would also require the agency to implement widespread reforms to the FMCSA’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability program before resuming work on the Safety Fitness Determination rule.
The bill includes $19.2 billion in discretionary appropriations for the DOT for fiscal year 2017. According to a House press release, this is $540 million above the fiscal year 2016 level and $4 billion below what was requested by President Obama.
In total budgetary resources, the bill provides $76.9 billion to improve and maintain the nation’s transportation infrastructure. The bill allows $44 billion from the Highway Trust Fund to go to Federal-Aid Highways Program – an amount that is $905 million more than last fiscal year’s level. The amount of funding “mirrors the levels authorized in the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST).” The FAST Act was approved last year.
In the House Appropriations Committee press release, Chairman Hal Rogers said the bill’s provisions prioritize programs and projects that make the “best use of every transportation dollar.”
Subcommittee Chairman Mario Diaz-Balart said the bill makes “tough choices” but recognized the need to “get critical infrastructure back on track.”
The bill is expected to go to the House floor in June.
Meanwhile the Senate’s version of the spending bill would require the U.S. Department of Transportation to issue a final rule on mandatory speed limiters within six months of the bill being signed into law.