House clears DOT funding bill that maintains ELD waiver for livestock haulers

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The U.S. House on Thursday passed a bill that would fund the U.S. Department of Transportation for the 2019 fiscal year and extend the electronic logging device mandate exemption for truckers hauling livestock and bees at least through Sept. 30. Livestock and bee haulers have been allowed to run on paper logs and without an ELD since the mandate took effect in December 2017.

However, the bill faces strong headwinds in ultimately becoming law. Whether the Republican-controlled Senate will take up the bill is unknown, and President Trump has insisted he’ll veto spending bills that do not include funds to build a wall on the southern border of the U.S.

But the bill could lay the groundwork for whatever DOT appropriations package does eventually pass Congress. The timeline for when that could occur is unclear, though — lawmakers and the president have been at odds over government funding since December, leading to a partial government shutdown that’s now in its third week.

The shutdown to this point has not affected operations at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration or the Federal Highway Administration, but more than half of the workers at the U.S. DOT have been furloughed.

Also included in the House’s DOT funding package is a provision hustling FMCSA to “ensure a safe and timely completion” of FMCSA’s split sleeper berth study, which the agency said in December had been scrapped. It’s unclear whether the provision would require FMCSA to resume the study, which was initiated several years ago and intended to study the feasibility of allowing drivers to split their on- and off-duty periods into segments. Amid its push for an overhaul of hours of service regulations, FMCSA halted the study last year.