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July 14, 2017 2:15 PM, EDT
Appropriators to Take Up Transportation Funding Bill July 17 With Meal, Rest Break Provision
U.S. Capitol Daniel Huizinga/Flickr

House Republican leaders are measuring the degree of support within their caucus for a provision in a fiscal 2018 transportation funding bill that would pre-empt state laws on meal and rest breaks for truckers, congressional aides told Transport Topics.

The Republican whip team on July 14 is reaching out to colleagues to outline reasons for supporting the provision. Leadership is anticipating it will be approved when the Transportation and Housing and Urban Development, or T-HUD, funding legislation is considered by the Appropriations Committee on July 17.

The legislation states that a “state, political subdivision of a state, or political authority of two or more states” may not enact or enforce a law having to do with meal and rest break requirements. The pre-emption provision was targeted by Democrats during the bill’s consideration in subcommittee on July 11.

An aviation reauthorization bill recently approved by a Senate committee has a similar provision. It also has support from a significant number of trucking industry executives.

American Trucking Associations emphasized the provision would clarify a requirement in a 1994 aviation law to block a California law signed in 2011. That law requires employers to provide a “duty-free” 30-minute meal break for employees who work more than five hours a day and a second “duty-free” 30-minute meal break for people who work more than 10 hours a day.

Overall, the House bill would provide the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration with $758 million, a $113.6 million increase over the fiscal 2017 enacted level. Of that funding, nearly half would go toward safety assistance programs, $31.8 million for commercial driver license implementation program and $43.1 million for high-priority activities.

At the July 17 hearing, Democrats also intend to win support for TIGER infrastructure grants in the House funding legislation. Republican funding leaders are not providing funding for the Obama-era grants, mirroring the Trump administration’s request for the program.

On the other side of the Capitol, transportation funding leaders in the Senate expressed support for the TIGER grants, which were allocated $500 million in a fiscal 2017 funding law.