Supply Chain Bills Reach House Floor
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A panel in the House of Representatives recently approved proposals to boost the freight workforce and increase efficiency along commercial corridors.
On May 23, the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee advanced to the floor of the chamber a legislative package that responded to long-standing supply chain concerns.
“The Biden administration’s big-spending, anti-energy agenda led to sky-high inflation and exacerbated a critical supply chain crisis,” Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Sam Graves (R-Mo.) said. “Today, the committee took action to strengthen our supply chain in numerous ways by removing regulatory barriers, improving supply chain efficiency and promoting smarter infrastructure investment.”
Rep. Rick Larsen (D-Wash.), the panel’s ranking member, emphasized: “The committee advanced bills that will invest in our maritime supply chain while protecting U.S. economic security and creating jobs, improve the movement of goods on our roads and better help disaster survivors recover.”
“I look forward to continuing to move forward in areas where we agree because there is a lot of work to do in pursuit of a cleaner, greener, safer and more accessible transportation system,” Larsen added.
Bills central to trucking industry policies garnered bipartisan backing. Such legislation included the Licensing Individual Commercial Exam-takers Now Safely and Efficiently (LICENSE) Act. The bill would make permanent two waivers issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The first regulation would allow state driver’s licensing agencies to use certain third-party testers to administer commercial driver license knowledge tests. The bill also would allow states to administer driving skills tests to certain out-of-state applicants.
LICENSE Act sponsors included Reps. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) and Darin LaHood (R-Ill.).
“Worker and trucking shortages continue to be a persistent challenge for small businesses in central and northwestern Illinois, and the downstream effects are harming working families,” LaHood said during the bill’s introduction last month. He is a member of the Ways and Means Committee on tax policy.
Also approved in committee was the CARS Act, which would provide a 10% weight tolerance for stinger-steered automobile transporters.
“The CARS Act would ensure vehicle transportation does not fall behind by restoring lost load capacity to transport carriers that are witnessing a surge in heavier cars on the market,” said Rep. Lance Gooden (R-Texas), a co-sponsor.
The Dry Bulk Weight Tolerance Act, which would allow a 10% weight tolerance for dry bulk carriers for the shifting of cargo in vehicles loaded at or below federal weight limits, was backed by the panel.
“Current law doesn’t take into account that this movement is inevitable. This legislation is a common-sense solution for truckers transporting dry bulk by giving more flexibility for weight per axle requirements,” explained Rep. Rick Crawford (R-Ark.), a co-sponsor and chairman of the Highways and Transit Subcommittee.
The Ocean Shipping Reform Implementation Act also advanced to the floor. Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) was the key sponsor: “The Ocean Shipping Reform Act made a positive difference in our ocean shipping supply chain, but there is more to be done,” he said. “Passing OSRA 2.0 is crucial to strengthen the [Federal Maritime Commission’s] authority to crack down on unfair trade practices and combat China’s influence over United States supply chains.”
Other bills gaining approval included the Truck Parking Improvement Act, the Supply Chain Improvement Act and the Motor Carrier Safety Selection Standard Act, which Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) said would establish “common-sense guidelines for motor carriers to follow and I am glad to see it is one step closer to becoming law.”
Floor consideration for the measures has yet to be scheduled.
Freight stakeholders welcomed the committee’s work on the supply chain-centric package.
“The comprehensive and bipartisan bills that advanced today would address some of the root causes of ongoing supply chain challenges and improve the overall safety, efficiency and resiliency of freight transportation,” American Trucking Associations President Chris Spear said. ATA has determined the trucking workforce is short about 78,000 drivers.
“ATA has repeatedly engaged with Congress to discuss persistent challenges facing our industry, and we thank Chairman Graves for his attention to these issues and for his leadership of today’s markup,” Spear added. “We also commend the bill sponsors who worked with us and other key stakeholders to craft solutions that would benefit our industry, the economy and American consumers.”
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