The USA House passes the THUD bill with controversial trucking riders

The U.S. House of Representatives put its final stamp on the bill funding the Departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development (THUD) through the end of fiscal year 2016 in a 216-210 vote July 9, the Journal of Commerce reports.

The THUD “freezes or cuts critical investment in transportation that creates jobs, helps to grow the economy, and improves America’s roads, bridges, transit infrastructure, and aviation systems,” the White House Office of Management and Budget said June 1.

The bill for transportation includes numerous provisions of interest to truckers and affects both driver hours of service and truck lengths. One would allow the first change in truck length limits in decades, permitting the use of 33-foot pup trailers in double-trailer combinations. Currently, pups are limited to 28 feet in length.

Another would impose tougher conditions on when the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration could reinstate provisions of the truck driver hours-of-service regulations suspended last December by language inserted in last year’s omnibus federal spending bill.

The suspended provisions required truckers to include two consecutive 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. periods in any weekly restart, which in practice often extended restarts well beyond the 34 hours allowed since 2004. Use of the restart was limited to once in a seven-day period.

Suspending those provisions restored the straight 34-hour restart, which allows drivers who go off duty Friday or early Saturday to be back on the road Sunday afternoon or evening.

The  inclusion of the two riders in the THUD bill was very welcomed by the American Trucking Associations

However, the THUD trucking riders are opposed by public safety advocates who argue against longer trucks, often with rail industry backing, and groups that want longer weekend rest periods and shorter work hours for truckers, as well as the White House.

The $55.3 billion bill could face a presidential veto, along with every other appropriations measure. The Senate must pass its own version, and then the two chambers must agree on final language before sending it on to the president for signature.