Congress Rejects Twin 33s Trailer Provision in Funding Bill

Johm Sommers II for TT

A provision that would have authorized the use of twin 33-foot trailers nationwide did not make the final version of a large fiscal 2016 bill that would fund the federal government through September.

Congressional funding leaders on Dec. 16 indicated they had removed the trailer provision from the omnibus funding legislation that would provide funding for every federal agency.

According to a summary of the bill released by the Appropriations Committee 's ranking Democrat, Sen. Barbara Mikulski, “The provision was opposed by the State Highway Patrol Association and other law enforcement entities who argue that double trailers already increase the chances of a fatality in the event of an accident. Expanding the length of double trailers will only further compromise the safety of our roadways.”

The House and Senate plan votes on a short-term funding fix Dec. 16 to keep the government operating. The chambers then plan a vote on the omnibus later in the week before Congress adjourns for the holidays.

Despite garnering bipartisan approval in the House and Senate, a cadre of senators led by Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) mounted a small but persistent opposition to the trailer provision. 

On Nov. 18, the Senate gave voice vote approval to Wicker’s proposal calling for a delay in approving twin 33-foot trailers nationwide, a move that concerned supporters.

American Trucking Associations and other industry groups back a proposal that would pave the way for mainstream use of twin 33-foot trailers. Ed Patru, a spokesman for the Coalition for Efficient and Responsible Trucking, said stripping the provision from the omnibus was “unfortunate and disappointing.”

“In rejecting a modest extension in the length of twin trailers, Congress missed an opportunity to bring long-overdue efficiencies to freight trucking that would have produced tangible safety, economic and environmental benefits at a time when so many roads and bridges have fallen into disrepair after years of neglect,” Patru said.