Congressional low-hanging fruit for the Babin ELD delay bill, and a real shortage in Puerto Rico

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Updated Jan 24, 2018
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Remember that small (31 members) but supposedly influential group of Republican reps in the House who put forward a mammoth list of regulations on the eve of the Trump administration it wanted prioritized for review or repeal? The so-called “House Freedom Caucus?” Well, you also might recall that the ELD mandate was on that list, as was one reg favored by many in the audience, I know — the entry level driver training rule, which would add a pre-CDL test course of learning for those who would obtain a CDL.

When the opportunity to vote on what would have amounted to an at least nine-month delay in the ELD mandate came up early this month, however, a six caucus members either didn’t vote or actually voted among those who favored defeating the measure:

Voted no:
Andy Biggs of Arizona
Jody Hice of Georgia
Jim Jordan of Ohio
Mark Meadows of North Carolina
David Schweikert of Arizona

Didn’t vote:
Jim Bridenstine of Oklahoma
Tom Garrett Jr. of Virginia

A former caucus member, Ted Poe of Texas, also lodged a no vote. Moving all of those names to the yes column wouldn’t have tipped the balance in favor of the appropriations bill amendment to delay the mandate (the amendment was defeated by a wide margin, 246-173), but if there’s any low-hanging fruit out there for truckers looking to exert some Congressional influence toward support of the still-extant ELD Extension Act of 2017 two-year-delay standalone bill, these House members might well be the most ripe for such influence. You can find the full list of just who voted for Texas Rep Brian Babin’s appropriations-bill amendment — and who voted against it or didn’t vote, too — via this link, fyi.

Situation in Puerto Rico continues dire more than a week after Maria
The latest natural disaster to hit U.S. shores — Hurricane Maria’s direct hit on Puerto and other islands in the Carribean — is being compounded by what appears to be a quite actual shortage (the at any price kind) of truckers to distribute relief supplies where they’re needed around the island. This is understandable to a certain extent, given the fact that Puerto Rico is what it is, a relatively small island without the luxury of 47 contiguous states from which truckers can dispatch themselves over land. Likewise, the extent of the infrastructure damage there is vast, with fuel and, well, cleared roads no doubt in short supply in many areas.

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Trucks too, if a variety of recent reports are correct, including the one at this link.

When I was on the island about a year and a half ago, well out of San Juan in a small town on the North coast, much of the industry I saw outside San Juan seemed made up of straight trucks (plenty of that owner-operator pride on offer in them, I’ll say, evidenced by no shortage of custom personalization), not necessarily tractors capable of quickly hooking to port-loaded containers.

This morning, news is that the President has relaxed “Jones Act” restrictions on vessels delivering fuel and other commodities to the island, but if other reports suggesting aid has already been coming in via ship at a rate that’s too quick to get it seamlessly delivered across much of the island are correct, that might a moot step to take. I’m betting the truckers there are standing up, though. Here’s hoping supply lines that were disrupted by the hurricane get flowing.

For more, this report in Martime Logistics Professional outlines the situation well.