Trucking Provision Absent From Senate's FAA Reform Bill

WASHINGTON — A provision related to truck drivers that drew controversy in the House will not be part of an aviation reform bill that a Senate panel will consider March 16.

In their aviation bill, Senate Commerce Committee leaders did not include language that would prevent states from enacting laws requiring companies to schedule meal and rest breaks for drivers or to pay drivers by the hour.

At the markup, senators are expected to propose changes to the bill. Those amendments could be trucking-related. Overall, the panel’s bill would reauthorize Federal Aviation Administration programs through the end of fiscal 2017.

“This bill benefits Americans who fly and even those who don’t. The U.S. Senate has an opportunity to make our skies safer, promote responsible drone usage, make economically significant aerospace manufacturing reforms and adopt beneficial new protections for the flying public,” Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.) said.

The FAA bill in the House, which was advanced to the chamber’s floor last month, included a provision related to meal and rest breaks for truckers. That trucking language, as well as a proposal that would privatize the air traffic control system, were reasons the bill was not considered on the House floor. Several trucking industry leaders pushed for the meal- and rest-break provision in the House bill.

FAA’s authorization expires at the end of the month. On March 3, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said he was discussing a temporary extension of aviation authorization with his Senate counterparts. "We’re working with the Senate to decide the duration" of the short-term authorization, Ryan told reporters.