Influential House Republicans, including the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, have urged President Obama to withdraw the administration's controversial proposal to change the rules governing truck drivers' hours of service. The plan, put out for public comment late last year by the U.S. Department of Transportation's (DOT) Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), had already met with near-unanimous opposition.
In a September 23 letter to the president, Committee Chairman John L. Mica (R-Fla.) joined by Rep. John J. Duncan (R-Tenn.), chair of the highways and transit subcommittee, and Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa), chair of the railroads, pipelines, and hazardous materials subcommittee, said the proposed changes "will result in additional trucks and drivers on the road to deliver the same amount of freight, adding to final product costs and increasing congestion on our already overburdened highways."
In the letter, the lawmakers also said they would "aggressively oversee any attempt" by DOT to impose new regulatory burdens on the trucking industry by changing the current hours-of-service rules, which have been in effect since 2004.
Justin Harclerode, a committee spokesman, said he believes this is the first letter signed by Rep. Mica that addresses the contentious issue.
The proposal, expected to become final at the end of October, has almost universally been panned by shippers, carriers, and state agencies that are concerned about the cost of complying with the proposed rules. The most controversial provision would reduce the number of continuous hours a driver can be behind the wheel from 11 to 10.
Although the proposal FMCSA put out for public comment includes the reduced-hours provision, the agency has not explicitly said that it will seek to reduce drivers' hours. However, the agency is expected to move in that direction.