Senate nixes 33-foot twin trailer provision in DOT funding bill

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Con-way FreightThe Senate added an amendment Wednesday morning to its 2016 DOT appropriations bill that keeps in place the 28-foot maximum length of double trailers.

The Senate’s original legislation included a provision to increase the limit to 33 feet, but an amendment brought to the Senate floor by Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) stripped the bill of the provision. Wicker called the amendment a victory for small business truckers. It was agreed to by a voice vote Wednesday.

The amendment comes a week after the Senate passed a resolution instructing its conferees in the current highway bill negotiations to reject any measures to add the 33-foot proposition to the long-term highway bill being hammered out by lawmakers now.

The Senate resumed work on its DOT funding bill — after tabling it in June — at the same time highway bill conferees began work to produce a unified long-term highway bill.

The Senate could vote this week on a motion to bring its DOT funding bill to the Senate floor for a full vote.

The House’s 2016 DOT-funding bill, which Congress’ lower chamber passed earlier this year, does include the 33-foot provision, so if the Senate passes the bill, there are still hurdles for the legislation to make it to the president for a signature. Either the House will have to take up the Senate version and pass it, or the two chambers will have to form another conference committee to work out a new bill.

The Senate DOT funding bill would also, like the House’s, further entrench 2014’s suspension of certain hours-of-service regulations. The new law would require FMCSA to prove, prior to the suspended hours-of-service rules going back into effect, that the 2013-implemented 34-hour restart rules are safer than pre-2013 rules. Click here to read more on the Senate bill from prior Overdrive coverage.