Senate CDL Bill Spotlights Veterans

It Aims to Reduce Red Tape
CDL Driver
A student driver trains in a truck. (John Sommers II for Transport Topics)

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Legislation that would ensure veterans benefits are approved without delay at new commercial driving schools was recently introduced in the U.S. Senate.

Sens. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) and Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) are sponsoring a bill to facilitate access to commercial driver licenses for veterans around the country. Their measure, titled the Veteran Improvement Commercial Driver License Act, would seek to guarantee that accredited CDL schools are able to accommodate veterans at new branches. The senators had offered the bill in the previous session of Congress.

“Frustrating red tape is inhibiting some veterans from pursuing a career in trucking, which is vital to our modern economy,” said Fischer, a member of the Commerce Committee on trucking affairs. “I’m proud to reintroduce legislation with Sen. Padilla that will reverse unnecessary regulations and allow more veterans to take advantage of their well-earned GI benefits.”

“Our veterans put their lives on the line in service to our nation, and we have a responsibility to support them and their families as they reintegrate into civilian life,” observed Padilla, a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee on highways.



The California Democrat continued, “This bill will expand veterans’ GI benefits, career training and educational opportunities to help them get quality, good-paying jobs. Paving the way for more veterans to obtain their commercial driver licenses will also address a critical workforce shortage and keep goods moving along our nation’s supply chain.”

Specifically, the bill would “ensure CDL schools that offer courses at new branches do not have to wait two years if the primary institutions has been approved by the VA and state approving agencies to receive GI benefits,” according to background accompanying the bill’s introduction. “By clarifying this two-year moratorium statute, the bill will allow veterans more accessibility to nearby CDL schools and lead to high paying careers in the industry.”

Existing laws require the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and state regulators to mandate a two-year waiting period regarding certain benefits if a certified trucking school opens a facility at a new location.

According to the bill’s sponsors, several stakeholders have endorsed the bill. Veterans groups backing the legislation include the American Legion, Moving Veterans Forward, Student Veterans of America, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Great Plains Chapter of Paralyzed Veterans of America and Nebraska Military Officers Association of America. Industry backers include the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Werner Trucking, the Commercial Vehicle Training Association and the Nebraska Trucking Association.

Proponents argue the legislation takes aim at a shortage of professional drivers industrywide. American Trucking Associations, which also endorses the measure, recently determined the trucking workforce is short about 78,000 drivers. That is a decrease from a previous estimate.

The bill has been referred to a committee with jurisdiction for consideration. In recent years, the Commerce Committee has reviewed and examined post-pandemic freight supply chain concerns pertaining to workforce matters.

Additionally, through programs authorized in the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the Biden administration is advancing workforce programs designed to recruit and retain individuals seeking careers in trucking.

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