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April 1, 2019 1:15 PM, EDT

Senate Appropriators Raise Livestock Industry’s ELD Concerns

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao“We’re very much aware of the hardship that these inflexible [HOS] rules have placed on rural and agricultural interests,” Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said. (John Sommers II for Transport Topics)

The concerns livestock haulers have raised about electronic logging devices continue to resonate on Capitol Hill.

At a recent appropriations subcommittee hearing in the U.S. Senate, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao was reminded about such concerns by a pair of Republican senators.

Eugene Mulero

Mulero

“When you’re hauling livestock, cattle, or whatever it may be, it’s different than hauling other products,” Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) told the secretary March 27. “I mean, you can’t, you gotta take care of the animals and so forth. So it does require more flexibility and is going to require a different set of regulations and requirements, if you will.”

“We see this one-size-fits-all regulation having harmful effects on Montana’s farmers and ranchers, and across the trucking and ag industries,” added Sen. Steven Daines (R-Mont.).

The secretary assured the senators her staff at the U.S. Department of Transportation is actively looking into the matter and emphasized hours-of- service rules are a focal point.

“We’re very much aware of the hardship that these inflexible rules have placed on rural and agricultural interests,” she told Hoeven.

Livestock hauler

Livestock haulers say the ELD mandate doesn't allow for flexibility while they are conducting daily commerce. (Washburn WALTR via YouTube)

“We have been listening to the concerns of senators like yourself about the ELD,” she said to Daines.

Livestock haulers have been consistent in their critique of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s ELD mandate. In response, the fiscal 2019 funding law provided livestock and insect haulers an exemption. A few days after her Senate testimony, the secretary announced DOT had sent to the Office of Management and Budget a notice of proposed rulemaking meant to reform HOS regulations.

With funding and policy measures on the horizon, bet on members of Congress to continue to bring up concerns about ELDs.

The Week Ahead (all times Eastern)

Spotlight Hearing

April 2, 12:45 p.m.: Major players in the transportation community say they are eagerly waiting for additional details on autonomous vehicles policy. Stakeholders will tune in with great interest to a keynote address Secretary Chao is scheduled to deliver at the Auto Alliances’ Autos2050 Project.

April 2, 7 a.m.: Politico interviews Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). 

April 2, 10 a.m.: The House Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee meets for a hearing titled, “Pipeline Safety: Reviewing the Status of Mandates and Examining Additional Safety Needs.”

April 2, 10 a.m.: The House Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee examines the U.S. EPA budget.

April 2, 10 a.m.: The House Water, Oceans and Wildlife Subcommittee hosts a hearing titled, “WOW 101: The State of Western Water Infrastructure and Innovation.”

April 2, 10 a.m.: The House Environment and Climate Change Subcommittee meets for a hearing on climate change.

April 2, 10 a.m.: The House Foreign Affairs Committee meets for a hearing on climate change. Witnesses include Ret. Navy Vice Adm. Dennis V. McGinn, former assistant secretary of the Navy for energy, installations and environment; former Deputy Defense Undersecretary for Environmental Security Sherri Goodman; and Paul Weisenfeld, executive vice president for international development at RTI International.

April 3, 8 a.m.: MobilityTalks International Forum features former Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.), and Reps. Bob Latta (R-Ohio) and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.).

April 3, 9 a.m.: The Senate Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee examines the Trump White House’s fiscal 2020 budget request for the U.S. EPA.

2018 Washington Auto Show

An attendee at the 2018 Washington Auto Show tests an exhibit by Ford Motor Co. (Nwin via YouTube)

April 5-14: Washington Auto Show at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.

Mood Swings

Infrastructure takes a backseat when talk of repeal and replace Obamacare re-enters the political lexicon.

 

In Case You Missed It

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), a Commerce Committee member, unveiled an atypical policy point for presidential aspirants: A $ 1trillion infrastructure plan.

Who’s New

Rep Rodney Davis (R-Ill.)

Davis

The new session of Congress gave us a new top Republican on the Highways and Transit Subcommittee.

Illinois Rep. Rodney Davis, elected in 2012, is suggesting we think of infrastructure funding the way we do of 401(k) accounts: multiple options.

“We, as policymakers, have to take a step back and finally figure out how do we change the funding structure,” Davis said at an Axios event March 28.

INFRASTRUCTURE OPTIONS: Davis expounds on Highway Trust Fund financing mechanisms.

Buzz

Several proponents of earmarks on Capitol Hill are referring to the banned practice as congressionally directed funds, or Article 1 funding. Just not earmarks, obviously.

Favorite Video

Self-described "recovering governor," Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del. and ranking member on the surface transportation panel, addressed climate change and infrastructure on the floor of the chamber.

Favorite Tweet

America’s mayor?

The Last Word

For a long time, you had to be crazy to drive in New York.

Highways and Transit Subcommittee Chairwoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) at Axios on March 28

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton

We publish weekly when Congress is in session. E-mail emulero@ttnews.com with tips. Follow us @eugenemulero and @transporttopics.