Meal and Rest Break Provision Sidelined With Short-Term Bill to Avert Shutdown

A meal and rest break pre-emption provision expected in a fiscal 2017 funding bill was sidelined as congressional leaders turned their focus to a weeklong funding measure instead, the chairman of the House funding panel announced this week.

The continuing resolution, or CR, introduced April 26 would fund federal agencies through May 5, thus averting a government shutdown that would fall on President Donald Trump’s 100th day in office April 29.

“I am optimistic that a final funding package will be completed soon. It is time that this essential work is completed so that critical programs and activities — including national defense — are properly and adequately funded for the year,” said House Appropriations Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.).

The short-term measure also would provide health benefits for certain union coal miners.

The expectation from industry stakeholders has been for the meal and rest break provision to be attached to a fiscal 2017 funding bill. That bill, known as an omnibus, is likely to include the measure.

“[Republican leaders] requested it,” a congressional aide with familiarity of the matter told Transport Topics. “It’ll probably be in there.”

Neither the funding nor authorizing transportation committees in the House have indicated if the trucking provision would be attached to a fiscal 2017 funding bill.

The trucking industry, led by American Trucking Associations, expressed optimism about the pre-emption provision’s inclusion.

“Without uniform federal laws and regulations governing motor carriers, multiple layers of rules threaten to impair and impede the movement of freight throughout the country, creating a substantially burdensome and redundant system of rules for operation,” ATA said in a statement earlier this year to its membership.

A pre-emption provision would clarify a requirement in a 1994 aviation law to block a California law signed in 2011. The California law requires employers to provide a “duty-free” 30-minute meal break for employees who work more than five hours a day as well as a second “duty-free” 30-minute meal break for those who work more than 10 hours a day.