A U.S. House of Representatives bill that would delay the December mandate for electronic logging devices is quietly gaining co-sponsors despite lacking support from congressional Republican leaders, a committee of jurisdiction and most of the trucking industry.
As carriers continue to ensure their vehicles are equipped with ELDs by Dec. 18, legislation offered by Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas) in July has garnered six co-sponsors this month. Thus far, 42 lawmakers in the House are on record as sharing Babin’s concern over the mandate.
Co-sponsors include Texas Republican Reps. Kevin Brady, Mac Thornberry, Pete Sessions and Michael Conaway, chairmen of the tax-writing Ways and Means, Armed Services, Rules and Agriculture committees, respectively. Also sponsoring the bill are Republican Reps. Todd Rokita of Indiana and Doug LaMalfa of California, members of the Transportation and Infrastructure panel. Babin also sits on the transportation committee.
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“We are very pleased as we continue to add more support and co-sponsors every week, even during the August recess. We look forward to building on the growing number of co-sponsors when Congress returns in a few weeks,” Jimmy Milstead, a spokesman for Babin, told Transport Topics on Aug. 22.
Babin and the co-sponsors argue the mandate on the devices would result in too big a lift financially for smaller carriers and independent commercial drivers.
“Certainly no one is against safety but it isn’t always easier for everybody to meet a mandate,” LaMalfa told the head of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration at a July 18 hearing of the transportation committee.
That day Babin introduced his bill and said those who “don’t want the burden, expense and uncertainty of putting one of these devices into every truck they own by the end of the year, we can and should offer relief.”
Support for the bill also is coming from the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association. “It’s apparent that the concerns raised about the mandate are being taken seriously by Congress,” said Norita Taylor, an OOIDA spokeswoman.
But without a Senate companion bill and support from Republican leaders the Babin legislation has a tough road ahead. FMCSA and other stakeholders are not banking on a delay.
FMCSA’s leadership strongly noted its preparedness for the Dec. 18 mandate, which the agency said it hopes will improve hours-of-service compliance.
Under the rule, ELDs must be independently self-certified and registered with the agency. FMCSA officials are hosting educational forums through November, making stops at the North American Commercial Vehicle Show in Atlanta, the California Trucking Show in Ontario, Calif., American Trucking Associations’ Management Conference & Exhibition in Orlando, Fla., and the Women in Trucking Accelerate Conference & Expo in Kansas City, Mo.