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June 5, 2017 3:00 AM, EDT

House Transport Panel Passes Two Bills to Assist Veterans in Obtaining CDLs

This story appears in the June 5 print edition of Transport Topics.

Legislation that would help military personnel obtain commercial driver licenses easily advanced through a House panel in May.

Under the Active Duty Voluntary Acquisition of Necessary Credentials for Employment, or ADVANCE, Act, current military service members and reservists would have access to the training and testing standards for commercial driver licenses for veterans under the 2015 FAST Act highway law.

The provision in the FAST Act applied only to certain veterans.

The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.), was approved by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee by voice vote. It now heads to the House floor for consideration.

“This is a common-sense measure that will help our brave men and women find work here,” Aguilar said May 24. “While we hear every day that Washington is broken and compromised by partisan gridlock, we can clearly see that there are issues that both parties can get behind. This is about helping our heroes find job opportunities in our communities. I look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress to see this bill through.”

Trucking industry executives have sought to improve recruitment of military personnel after they leave active duty. American Trucking Associations was among the groups to endorse Aguilar’s legislation.

“The trucking industry’s commitment to our servicemen and women is already strong, and we are working every day to strengthen that,” ATA President Chris Spear said. “We are proud of our continued support for the Hiring Our Heroes initiative, as well as legislation like the ADVANCE Act that would make it easier for current service members to pursue careers as professional drivers.”

The committee advanced another bill for veterans by voice vote. Sponsored by Rob Woodall (R-Ga.), the legislation would further allow qualified Department of Veterans Affairs medical professionals, including advanced practice nurses and physician assistants, to provide physical examinations for veterans seeking commercial driver licenses. The bill aims to reduce wait times for veterans.

Under the FAST Act, only doctors could sign off on the physical examination.

“I was proud to lead in the effort that resulted in a solution becoming the law of the land, but when we see ways to improve upon the ways we’re serving veterans even further, we absolutely want to seize that opportunity,” Woodall said.

The American Legion supported the bill: “This legislation takes an important step to reduce the regulatory barriers facing veterans in the trucking industry, and the strong bipartisan backing behind this bill is evidence that better serving our nation’s veterans is a goal we can all support.”

The committee also advanced a Federal Maritime Commission reauthorization that would examine trucking access to ports and equipment.