House removes funding for onboard recorder mandate

Congress on June 29 passed a highway spending bill that contains a mandate requiring electronic onboard recorders on commercial vehicles.

However, also Friday the U.S. House passed an amendment to transportation spending legislation, separate from the highway bill, that blocks funding for the Department of Transportation to develop or implement rules requiring EOBRs. The mandate apparently still exists and could be funded later.

Obama Press Secretary Jay Carney said the President Obama looked forward to signing the highway bill before the most recent short-term funding legislation was set to expire at midnight.

The measure funds transportation programs at current level, adjusted for inflation, through 2014 said Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid. Additionally, it reauthorizes the National Flood Insurance Program and prevents college student loan interest rates from doubling and saves construction jobs, the Nevada Democrat added.

The Congressional Budget Office estimated the legislation also would lead to discretionary spending of $95.9 billion over the 2013-2017, which would be subject to future appropriation actions. Of that amount, transportation spending would total $94.3 billion.

The Senate voted 74-19 and the House 373-52 in favor of the compromise bill that reflects the first omnibus transportation bill approved since the last long-term funding expired in 2009.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association was pleased that the legislation was amended to remove a mandate for electronic onboard recorders on trucks. Last year, the U.S. Appeals Court for the Seventh Circuit vacated the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s final rule requiring the devices because it stated the agency’s rulemaking did not have safeguards to protect truckers from harassment.

 But the American Trucking Associations, which supports the mandate, described the last-minute change to the legislation as a step back for safety.

The bill has been touted as consolidating the number of surface transportation programs by two-thirds.

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