WASHINGTON — Legislation to invest $755 million over three years to expand truck parking in the U.S. advanced in the House on Tuesday after an opponent won assurances that the money would come from funds already authorized by Congress.
“Much has been made of the shortage of truck parking without looking at the underlying issue: namely, the onerous hours-of-service regulations imposed on our nation’s commercial drivers, forcing them off the road into full parking lots,” said U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., during debate in the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on the Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act. The legislation was introduced earlier this year in both the House and Senate.
Perry, who called the bill a “boondoggle,” said he and his constituents “want to be informed before we encumber the U.S. taxpayer to pay for this thing. If there’s not a pay-for, I’m offering it.”
To foot the $755 million bill, Perry offered an amendment that would rescind that amount from the Neighborhood Access and Equity Grant Program, an Inflation Reduction Act provision that allocates $1.9 billion for grants that improve transportation access in disadvantaged communities.
But U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Wash., countered that Perry’s amendment would guarantee that money would be redirected into truck parking. “This is a bill with significant bipartisan support. This should be an easy victory for our committee; instead we’re facing another poison pill.”
Committee Chairman Sam Graves, R-Mo., did not support Perry’s amendment but assured him that “we’re not encumbering the taxpayers with anything. This bill simply will not move to the floor unless it has a pay-for. I’m committed to finding a pay-for before it can move to the floor.” That prompted Perry to withdraw his amendment.
The legislation must now be approved by the full House, with companion legislation in the Senate yet to be considered in committee.
“Truckers are the backbone of the supply chain carrying over 70% of America’s freight, yet there is only one parking spot for every 11 trucks on the road,” said Todd Spencer, president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, on the advancement of the bill. “We encourage the U.S. Senate to follow their lead by stepping up to address American truckers’ top safety concern.”
The bill was part of a slate of 16 supply chain-related bills marked up by the committee, which advanced several bills aimed at expanding truck sizes and weights, implementing ocean shipping reforms, and reforming the CDL exam process, among others.
Some of the bills included in the markup — such as the truck parking measure — could advance on their own. But the markup is also intended to produce a supply chain legislative package that can have bipartisan support in the House and Senate.
“There’s a lot happening in the supply chain area; we have a lot of latent concerns hanging over us from the pandemic as well as current economic uncertainty, so anything Congress can do early to advance the ball is an important signal from Capitol Hill for shippers and carriers alike,” commented Randy Mullett, principal at Mullett Strategies, who lobbies in support of increasing truck sizes and weights.
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