Bill Maintains Restart Suspension, OKs Twin 33s
By Michele Fuetsch, Staff Reporter
This story appears in the May 4 print edition of Transport Topics.
WASHINGTON — A House appropriations bill unveiled last week could keep the suspended 34-hour restart rule from being reinstated by Sept. 30, and would permit use of twin 33-foot trailers.
The provisions were attached to the 2016 appropriations bill released April 28 by the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development subcommittee.
It was not clear at press time who attached any of the riders to the appropriations bill.
“It’s a subcommitte product,” said Appropriations Committee spokeswoman Jennifer Hing.
But the riders drew a swift retort from Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and Democrats on the subcommittee.
“There are some very important safety protections being challenged through the appropriations process without the benefit of hearings and without the benefit of testing those riders through public discourse,” Foxx told Transport Topics.
“The appropriations process shouldn’t be used to create policy. My hope is that folks will reconsider the merits of some of these issues,” he said.
The bill, which calls for $17.2 billion in discretionary spending for DOT and $572 million for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, also contains riders to defund the FMCSA’s work on new minimum-insurance levels for carriers and to allow trucks on Idaho’s interstate highways to weigh as much as 129,000 pounds.
The trailer provision would allow rigs to pull two 33-foot trailers on highways where there is a 28-foot limit.
“Controversial riders generally should not be included on an appropriations bill, and those on truck length and weight have no place in particular, given that the authorizers are actively working on a reauthorization proposal,” Rep. David Price (D-N.C.) said.
The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is working on the transportation reauthorization bill.
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