Tucked into a budget bill that cleared the House’s Appropriations Committee on Tuesday is a provision that would, in effect, protect the 30-minute break within current hours regs. The bill, a Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) appropriations bill for the 2020 fiscal year, would prohibit FMCSA from eliminating the 30-minute break.
As reported by CCJ last month, the bill could set up a clash between lawmakers and regulators at FMCSA. It’s still unknown whether FMCSA’s hours proposal will attempt to remove or alter the 30-minute break requirement, but it was a key topic of consideration in last year’s public debate on hours regs.
However, the THUD bill will expire next September, meaning the provision on the 30-minute break would expire then, too. It’s unlikely FMCSA could move swiftly enough on issuing or enacting a final rule to reform hours of service regs by that date, so the provision within the THUD bill could be inconsequential. Lawmakers would need to renew the provision to uphold the 30-minute break for the 2021 fiscal year, should FMCSA try to eliminate the break requirement.
The 30-minute break provision must also still pass the full House intact and the Senate, and then likely a conference committee between the two chambers should their THUD bills differ. That’s a steep hill to climb for a provision that’s likely to be publicly challenged by industry groups and, likely, lawmakers from both parties.