WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans introduced a joint resolution on Thursday to overturn the Biden administration’s recent emissions reduction rule for trucks that the lawmakers warn is too costly for truckers and consumers.
The rule, finalized by the Environmental Protection Agency in December and set to go into effect March 27, sets stringent new standards for nitrous oxide and other pollutants for heavy-duty trucks beginning no later than model year 2027.
Red flags immediately were raised by truck manufacturers, large carriers and owner-operators. Now 34 Senate Republicans, led by Deb Fischer, R-Neb., are pushing back as well.
“The Biden Administration is saddling the trucking industry with an onerous regulation that would jack up vehicle costs and hurt good paying jobs,” Fischer asserted.
“This aggressive EPA rule — which will hit mom and pop truck operations the hardest — is also ineffective, because it incentivizes operators to keep using older, higher-emitting trucks for longer. During a period of high inflation and supply chain disruptions, the last thing this country needs is more expensive freight costs and fewer truckers.”
Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kan., said the regulation would be particularly onerous in his home state, where he said 98% of all trucking companies operate 25 or fewer trucks.
“Under this new rule, these small businesses will take the hardest hit from this rule that requires them to spend as much as $8,304 [more] per vehicle to be in compliance,” Marshall said. “This is yet another inflationary policy from the Biden administration that our economy does not need.”
Instead of using the traditional legislative process, lawmakers are attempting to fast-track revocation of the rule by invoking the Congressional Review Act (CRA), a law that gives Congress a specified time period in which to submit and act on a joint resolution of disapproval.
Since it was enacted in 1996, the CRA has been used to overturn 20 rules, including 16 in the 115th Congress (2017-2018) and three in the 117th Congress (2021-2022).
But because a joint resolution under the CRA can be vetoed by the president, such resolutions have only been successful when a presidential administration’s party controls both houses of Congress.
“The chances of this passing are pretty much zero,” Loren Smith, a transportation policy analyst, told FreightWaves.
“Even if you can get both the House and Senate to pass it — which is a heavy lift — Joe Biden would veto it. I suspect the reason the Senate is even attempting this is they want to show their voters and donors they’re fighting the administration, and for new members coming in to show how much they disagree with Biden.”
Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, contends the move is at least symbolic. “This sends a message to the Biden administration that its egregious green energy policy will hurt consumers, small business owners, and our still-fragile supply chain,” he said. “If this CRA succeeds, Congress can stop this rule before it causes too much damage.”
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