The mandatory fuel surcharge OK’d by the U.S. House in its highway bill is not part of the U.S. Senate version approved by the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.
The surcharge could reappear later, however, when the House and Senate work out differences in their respective bills.
The surcharge is opposed by 22 business, shipping and transportation groups, including the American Trucking Associations, the American Moving and Storage Association and the Motor Freight Carriers Association.
It also is opposed by the head of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, who testified against it before a Senate subcommittee April 5.
The House’s surcharge legislation “would insinuate government into commercial relationships in a way that is ill-advised and that would reverse a quarter-century of U.S. economic policy,” Annette Sandberg told the Senate’s surface transportation subcommittee.
Sandberg also asked that the 2003 hours-of-service rule be made permanent, but with language that would allow FMCSA to revise it if necessary.
When Congress passed its most recent transportation funding extension, it required the current hours rule to be effective until the FMCSA issues a final rule. Federal courts have directed the agency to issue a new rule before Sept. 30.
“The new rule, like the old rule, will not please everyone,” Sandberg testified. “I am concerned that the revised rule will open the agency and the department to the same kinds of legal challenges we have experienced already.”
She expressed concern over proposed hours exemptions for agricultural transporters and utility vehicle drivers, exemptions that she said compromised safety.