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Sequestration may not touch trucking safety, regulatory programs

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Updated Feb 7, 2013

Though $1.2 trillion worth of federal funding cuts could be in store March 1 — unless Congress and the President act swiftly — trucking safety programs like the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and any other programs that offer funding to motor carrier safety operations, programs and grants could mostly be exempt from any funding cuts, per a piece of legislation signed into law in 1985. 

This week, President Barack Obama offered a package of spending cuts and tax reforms to push back the March 1 date for the sequestration cuts, but Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kent.) rejected the proposal. 

In the 2011 debt ceiling debates, Congress passed and the president signed a bill that forced the so-called “fiscal cliff” cuts and tax increases slated to take place last month. Before both were set to take place, though, Congress passed another bill at the beginning of January, which was subsequently signed by the president, to push the spending cuts back to March 1. The bill did include some longer-term tax rate changes that avoided some of the steeper increases that would have come for the middle class and the wealthy.

However, furloughs could come for U.S. Department of Transportation employees, according to a Feb. 5 memo from Deputy Secretary John Porcari, if sequestration does take place next month.