May 6, 2015 2:10 PM, EDT

Sen. Deb Fischer’s FMCSA Overhaul Bill Expected Before Long-Term Highway Bill

Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg News

WASHINGTON — Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) said she expects to offer legislation that would reform programs at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration before Congress takes up a long-term highway plan.

“We haven’t decided on that for sure yet, when we’ll get it in. … We’ll see,” Fischer told Transport Topics on May 5.

The senator’s office indicated the legislation would include regulatory look-back provisions and strengthened benefit-cost analysis, including expanded industry participation in the decision-making process and encouraging real-world impact studies.

Presuming that Congress OKs a short-term transportation reauthorization extension this month, Fischer’s office also indicated that the goal is to introduce the overhaul bill before Congress takes up a long-term highway plan, which would be sometime in the second half of this year.

Fischer is deeply concerned about FMCSA’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability program. Her staff explained that she will be supportive of other members on the Senate Commerce Committee who are crafting a bill that would make changes to CSA.

Fischer said she was compelled to press ahead with improvements to FMCSA after a recent Government Accountability Office report concluded the agency had demonstrated challenges in its reliability of CSA’s safety measurement system in predicting carrier crashes. The report also noted that the agency had not adopted GAO’s recommendation that it revise aspects of CSA’s methodology.

Fischer, chairwoman of the Commerce Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety and Security, a panel with jurisdiction over trucking regulations, said she has talked to Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), the subcommittee’s ranking member, about her bill. Booker is a staunch defender of the agency’s hours-of-service rules for truckers and opposed the HOS restart rule suspension.

Trucking industry leaders and several stakeholder groups have called on lawmakers to reform aspects of FMCSA.

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this article indicated Fischer’s legislation would be unveiled sometime in June.