Restart rollback bill delayed as Senate pulls it from the floor

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Updated Jun 23, 2014

big road elogThe Senate bill that would have suspended two of the 34-hour restart provisions included in the 2013-implemented federal hours-of-service rule was pulled from the Senate floor June 19 after disagreements over procedural rules prevented the bill from moving forward for debate.

The annual Transportation, Housing and Urban Development bill — which provides the Department of Transportation with its 2015 fiscal year funding — came to the Senate floor this week with an amendment that would have halted the requirement that a driver’s 34-hour restart include two consecutive 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. periods and the once-per-week limit on the restart, pending a study. That amendment — proposed by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) — was added by the Appropriations Committee earlier this month.

Freshman Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.), however, had filed an amendment for consideration by the full Senate to strip the bill of the Collins amendment but keep the requirement for further study of the rule’s efficacy.

After Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) couldn’t agree on how to move the bill forward for debate and into the amendment proposition phase (a highly partisan procedural issue over the number of votes needed), Reid pulled the bill from the Senate floor.

It’s unclear when the bill will make its way back to the floor for debate and advancement.

The White House released a statement this week saying it did not support the Collins amendment, but it did not say whether President Obama would veto the bill over it.

The American Trucking Associations this week said it was “very confident” the Collins amendment would prevail. It also said it was confident the amendment would hold through the conference committee process, when the House and Senate confer to work out differences between their two versions of the bill.

ATA did say it was “disappointed” that the bill was pulled, adding that the Collins amendment is “sound policy.”

“It is overwhelmingly bipartisan and when it’s ultimately enacted into law, it will help keep our nation’s highways safe,” ATA said in a statement.

The House’s version did not include the suspension of the restart provisions, but it did include language that would prevent the agency from moving forward with its rule to increase the minimum about of liability insurance motor carriers are required to have.

It also did not include language in the Senate bill that would require the agency to produce a Safety Fitness Determination rule by December and a final electronic logging device mandate rule by Jan. 30, 2015.

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