The 2016 fiscal year appropriations bill passed by Congress in December and signed into law by President Obama the same month may have included a major unintentional consequence: Removing the 34-hour restart rules from the federal code entirely, rather than simply suspending enforcement of certain 34-hour restart provisions.
This according to an internal memo circulated by the Truckload Carriers Association late Friday, who said it advises its carrier members and drivers at large to continue to operate under the presumption that the 34-hour restart exists.
The memo says it and other trucking trade groups, such as the American Trucking Associations, are urging Congress to act quickly to fix the issue.
The restart-specific language in the 2016 appropriations act was only intended to continue the stay of enforcement on two provisions pertaining to the 34-hour restart: The requirement that it include two 1 a.m. to 5 .m. periods and that its use be limited to once per week.
Neither of those rules have been enforced since December 2014, and lawmakers only meant to preserve the suspension of those rules pending the results of a major DOT study.
Instead, however, the bill says no funds shall be used to “implement, administer, or enforce sections 395.3(c) and 395.3(d) of title 49, Code of Federal Regulations, and such section shall have no force or effect on submission of the final report issued by the Secretary… “
That effectively removes the restart provision from the books, says TCA in its memo: “As discussions around this issue remain fluid, we are instructing our carrier members to keep their fleets operating as they have always been as members of Congress seek to reach an agreement on the best way to proceed. In an email to its Executive Committee, of which TCA is part, ATA has put forth options which they can use to negotiate with lawmakers. Of those options, the parties involved, including TCA representatives, have selected what ATA perceives to be the most flexible option on the table.”
CCJ plans to have more on this issue in the coming days.