A transportation funding bill, which includes provisions to block two major trucking mandates, stalled this week over disagreement about proposed cuts to Amtrak.
The Transportation, Housing and Urban Development subcommittee’s appropriations bill, or HR4820, was poised for a vote on the House floor on Tuesday, Nov. 7, before being pulled in the final minutes. According to reports, the bill failed to secure enough votes due to a divide over how much funding Amtrak should receive.
HR4820 would strip all funding that would be “used to promulgate any rule or regulation to require vehicles with a gross vehicle weight of more than 26,000 pounds operating in interstate commerce to be equipped with a speed-limiting device set to a maximum speed.”
Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., also added an amendment to the bill that would “prohibit the use of funds to finalize, implement or enforce the notice of proposed rulemaking related to automatic emergency braking.” Perry’s amendment passed on a voice vote.
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, which advocates for the rights of truck drivers, supports efforts to block both mandates.
“It’s frustrating to see the House THUD legislation get stalled because of non-trucking-related matters, especially when the bill includes critical provisions that would prevent DOT from moving forward with a dangerous speed limiter mandate and a highly flawed automatic emergency braking proposal,” said Jay Grimes, OOIDA’s director of federal affairs. “The legislation has won support from a number of transportation organizations primarily because it would prevent FMCSA from advancing any speed limiter rule. This is another example of how chaotic the appropriations process has been this year, with the recent Speaker of the House election and a looming government funding deadline on Nov. 17.”
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is scheduled to publish a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking on speed limiters in December. FMCSA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are projected to issue a joint final rule on automatic emergency braking systems in April.
Both rulemakings have received heavy opposition from truck drivers.
More than 15,000 comments were filed in response to FMCSA’s speed limiter notice published in 2022. Most of the comments came from truck drivers who were adamantly opposed to the idea of being forced to drive significantly slower than the posted speed limit.
Many truckers also spoke out against efforts to require the braking systems, citing examples of false activations.
The provisions in the transportation funding bill provide a voice for truckers who oppose both mandates.
However, it must be noted that there will be significant hurdles to getting the bill passed. Even if the disagreement over funding to Amtrak can be resolved and the bill passes the House, the measures to stop the trucking mandates still would need to be worked into the Senate bill.
But the appropriations bill isn’t the only way lawmakers are trying to stop speed limiters. The DRIVE Act, which has been introduced in the House and Senate, would stop FMCSA from moving forward with any rule or regulation that would require heavy-duty vehicles to be equipped with a speed-limiting device. LL