House skips infrastructure vote as Congress averts government shutdown

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Updated Oct 5, 2021

Trucking news and briefs for Friday, Oct. 1, 2021:

House skips vote on infrastructure bill amid Democrats' political infighting

The U.S. House of Representatives set out to vote on a $1 trillion infrastructure bill on Thursday, but the vote never materialized as Democratic leadership of the House lost confidence that the bill would pass due to infighting with the progressive wing of the party.

Initially on Thursday, Rep John Katko (D-New York) broke with fellow House Republicans to call for a vote on the bill, for which the American Trucking Associations applauded him. The bill passed the Senate last month with strong bipartisan support and a 69-30 vote.

Notably, the Senate version of the bill now before the House does not include an insurance premium hike, as earlier House versions of the bill did.

Instead of the House voting on infrastructure and/or the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package Thursday, the Senate and later the House passed a stopgap spending bill that would avert a federal government shutdown through early December.

American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials said via statement "yesterday’s inaction on the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act isn’t just disappointing—it lapses our highway, transit, and highway safety programs and halts work on vital transportation infrastructure around the country, which is detrimental to our economy and the quality of life of our communities,” said Jim Tymon, AASHTO executive director. “We are dealing with very real repercussions. Thousands of federal employees at USDOT are being furloughed and $50 billion of federal surface transportation programs supported by the Highway Trust Fund are being suspended. This is unacceptable."

Landstar truck giveaway means new opportunity for owner-op

Landstar System owner-operator Mike Lamb won a new 2022 Kenworth T680 as part of the 2021 Landstar Deliver to Win Truck Giveaway, sponsored by Comdata.

Lamb, of Joshua, Texas, said winning the new truck couldn’t have come at a better time.

“The timing of this couldn’t be more perfect,” he said. “I’m close to paying off my current truck and have been planning to expand my business with a second truck and driver. Now I can do that with two fully paid-for trucks. And I am really looking forward to the automatic transmission. The reality of it all is still sinking in. I am so thankful to Landstar, Comdata and everyone involved who made this happen.” 

Lamb, whose regular route between Dallas-Ft. Worth and Laredo, Texas, was one of five finalists randomly selected for the drawing from the eligible owner-operators leased to Landstar. The other finalists were:

  • Daryl K. Batty from Gadsden, Alabama
  • Tremayne Bland from Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Arthur Brown from Killeen, Texas
  • Jeff Mikel from Cleveland, Tennessee

The winner was determined by each of the finalists selecting a single box among five boxes, one of which indicated the recipient of a new truck.

The concord blue Kenworth Lamb won features a 455-hp Paccar MX engine, front and rear disc brakes, Bendix Wingman Fusion Driver Assistance system and a 76-inch high-roof sleeper.

Throughout the year, all eligible owner-operators leased to Landstar automatically earn entries in the Deliver to Win Truck Giveaway contest by delivering loads safely during the contest period. They also have opportunities to earn additional entries, including monthly contests held via DeliverToWin.com. After the contest period ends, all entries are pooled, and finalists are selected by a computerized random number generator. 

FMCSA extends HOS waiver for steel company’s haulers

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has renewed a waiver previously granted to Cleveland-Cliffs Steel, formerly ArcelorMittal Indiana Harbor, from certain hours-of-service and cargo securement rules and requests public comment on the renewal.

The renewal of the exemption allows Cliffs’ employee-drivers with commercial driver’s licenses, who transport steel coils a fraction of a mile between their production and shipping locations on public roads, to continue to work up to 16 hours per day, and to operate with less than 10 consecutive hours off duty between work shifts.

The renewal of the exemption also allows Cliffs to use metal coil carriers that do not meet the ‘‘heavy hauler trailer’’ definition, restrictions on the height of rear side marker lamps, tire loading restrictions, and the commodity-specific cargo securement requirements for metal coils.

FMCSA says it has concluded that granting the request for a renewal of the exemption will likely maintain a level of safety that is equivalent to or greater than the level of safety achieved through compliance with the specific regulatory requirements.

The agency is requesting comments on the Cliff’s request for a renewal of the exemption, which can be made here through Nov. 1. Specifically, FMCSA is asking for comments from parties with data concerning the safety record of Cliffs’ steel coil drivers and their respective trucks.