After numerous delays, the House passed the six-year highway bill on November 5th with a vote of 363-64. The $325-billion legislation is aimed at reforming the CSA ratings program and creating a program to get young truckers more involved in interstate commerce. This follows the Senate’s July passing of a similar highway bill with CSA reform plans. Now, the two must come together to produce a final bill for review by the President. Representative Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) and Senator James Inhofe (R-Ok.) stated that they plan to have a compromised legislation completed before November 20th, which is the day that funding for highway programs expires. The bill authorizes $261 billion for road programs, $55 billion for transit systems, and about $9 billion for highway safety programs.
Senator Inhofe and Senator Boxer said in a joint statement, “Businesses, labor, states, and local communities are depending on us to pass a consensus-based, bipartisan bill which provides funding certainty that will enable them to modernize our nation’s highways, bridges, and transit systems. We are also pleased that this bill provides the opportunity for increased investment in our aging infrastructure.”
The bill will require FMCSA to make “corrective actions” to the CSA scoring program and will call for a review of CSA by the National Research Council of the National Academies. During this time, CSA scores will not be available for public view. The bill will also create a graduated commercial driver’s license program with a task force whose mission is to start the process of allowing drivers between 19 years, 6 months and 21 years of age to operate trucks in interstate commerce.
The bill has significant momentum and support from the White House and industry officials, and many feel certain that we will soon see a final bill that leads to improved efficiency and safety on our highways.