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7/2/2012 3:00:00 PM Write a Letter to the Editor Write a letter to the Editor

Congress Passes Highway Bill

Measure Goes to President Obama for Signature

Bruce Andrew Peters for TT

The House and Senate Friday approved a two-year highway bill that will fund construction and safety programs though September 2014, ending nearly three years of deadlock and delay since the last comprehensive funding law expired.

House members voted 373-52 for the bill and the Senate followed with a 74-19 tally before a Congressional recess. The measure now goes to President Obama for his signature.

See related story: House measure would block funding of rules requiring use of EOBRs.

The bill contains several provisions affecting the trucking industry, including a mandate that all trucks have electronic onboard recorders, and creation of a federal alcohol and drug clearing house so carriers can check driver records.

The bill also requires the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to conduct a field study on the effectiveness of the 34-hour restart provision in its hours-of-service rule.

Motor carriers have said the restart portion of the HOS rule, issued in December, cuts into their productivity.

American Trucking Associations said Thursday that it backed the highway bill’s major provisions that affect trucking.

The bill provides for $52.2 billion in spending for fiscal year 2013 and $52.95 billion for FY 2014.

The congressional action came one day before the most recent funding extension of federal transportation programs was set to expire. There have been nine extensions since SAFETY-LU, the 2005 transportation reauthorization law, expired in September 2009.

The bill “will provide a major boost to our economy by putting Americans back to work,” House Transportation Committee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla) said in a statement.

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said the lopsided votes were proof Republicans and Democrats “can work together.”

By Michele Fuetsch
Staff Reporter

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