Moving and Trucking Industry Hail Passage of Historic Highway Bill
Thank you to all SMA members who reached out to the Senate. Early this afternoon, the Senate approved its two-year highway reauthorization bill by a vote of 74-22.
American Trucking Associations President and CEO Bill Graves issued the following statement today congratulating the Senate for passing an historic, long-term highway bill, and urged the House to quickly follow suit:
"The highway bill passed by the Senate is an example of how things should work in Washington," Graves said. "This bill advances the cause of highway safety and takes a number of important steps toward reforming our transportation system - two accomplishments for which the committee chairmen and ranking members - Senators Boxer, Inhofe, Baucus, Hatch, Rockefeller and Hutchison - are to be commended.
"As representatives of the trucking industry, we're particularly pleased to see this bill provide not just attention to - but $2 billion a year in funding for - highway freight-specific projects, reforms and consolidates redundant programs, speeds project approval; and steers clear of the tempting, but ill-advised use of tolls on existing Interstates," Graves said. "In particular, we'd like to thank Sen. Bingaman for his work to ensure that public-private partnerships protect the public interest, and that states do not get extra credit for selling off their transportation assets to the highest bidder. We also appreciate Sen. Hutchison's efforts to prevent the spread of tolls.
"This bill is also a step forward for highway safety. It orders the creation of a clearinghouse for commercial drivers' drug and alcohol test results, directs the federal government to create a notification system so employers can be told of drivers' traffic infractions, moves us in the direction of establishing crashworthiness standards for large trucks, raises the bar new companies and drivers must clear before coming into the trucking industry; and orders the mandating of electronic logs for all commercial drivers," Graves said. "While several safety initiatives, such as improved truck productivity, were not included in this bill, it is important to recognize just how much this bill does to improve truck safety.
"Now that the Senate has completed its work, I urge the House to pass its own bill and then quickly work with the Senate to send a bipartisan reform bill to the President, one which sets a new course based on the principles of promoting targeted, effective safety programs, and funding the most cost-beneficial transportation projects," Graves said.
The House, which is in recess this week, is in the process of determining whether to take up a version of the Senate bill or its own multi-year reauthorization. House Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, told House Republicans that he plans to bring the Senate version to the floor this month if they continue to disagree on their own alternative.