As the dog days of summer quickly come to a close, it is hard to forget that the U.S. midterm elections are just around the corner on November 6th. While some of us may be looking forward to the end of this election cycle and the endless pundit pontification about the potential outcome, the election could thrust Washington into even more turmoil than what we are currently experiencing. If, as some predict, there is a large turnover on the Hill, there will be many new and less experienced lawmakers setting policy for the U.S.
What does this mean for trucking? For starters, it means that we will need to hit the ground running to meet with these new legislators and tell TCA’s story of truckload. It could also mean that trucking issues will take a back seat as new lawmakers push to act in other areas.
But the biggest effect of the midterms is that the current congress has even less time than usual to complete any sort of legislative activity before the elections. The Senate has returned from the annual August recess early in order to get more work done and attempt to finish up major spending bills before a thirdof the Senate leaves again to campaign. One key spending bill with huge ramifications for the trucking industry is the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization package. Thisbill currently includes the industry’s F4A amendment to codify federal preemption of state meal and rest break requirements into law. The current patchwork of individual state laws is leading to confusion and ruthless lawsuits which penalize carriers who follow the federal standard but not the rules put forth in each state. If this language is not passed in this session of congress, our industry will likely have to turn to another method to seek preemption.
When the House of Representatives returns after Labor Day, they won’t have much time to finish up their own bills and meet with the Senate in conference committees to iron out the differences between the versions of legislative language passed by the two chambers. If the Senate does indeed pass the FAA legislation, a conference committee will need to finalize the version that will go to President Trump’s desk for his signature. However, since these deliberations can take weeks, this time crunch is becoming more and more problematic as the remaining days of summer fly by.
TCA is hopeful that issues such as hours of service, ELDs, younger drivers, infrastructure, and drug testing will remain a high priority for lawmakers as we move into fall. Action in any of these areas could have major implications for our industry – both positive and negative – so it is critical that legislators and regulators hear our voice before they move in the wrong direction.
That is why events like TCA’s upcoming Call on Washington on September 25th are so important for the truckload industry. Establishing our voice with government officials can only be accomplished through member participation in these initiatives. The Call on Washington is not just for U.S.-based TCA members – our Canadian carrier members will also have the chance to tell their story about how cross-border trade policies impact their businesses. Government officials desperately need to hear from the hardworking people who drive commerce and help the economy thrive, especially as the window to affect policy closes.