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ATA applauds Senate passage of long-term highway bill

ARLINGTON, Va. – The ATA welcomed the Senate’s passage of a long-term highway bill today.

President and CEO of the American Trucking Associations issued the following statement:

“The American Trucking Associations congratulates the Senate on passage of a highway reauthorization bill that represents a significant step toward addressing our nation’s transportation infrastructure needs.

“We now look forward to working with the House of Representatives to pass a well-funded bill that provides sufficient revenue for at least six years, with the goal of moving a bill out of a House-Senate conference committee before the next expiration.  Passage of a long-term bill is well overdue, and it is past time for Congress to provide states with the certainty they need to address the enormous backlog in critical highway and bridge improvements.”

Graves added that he applauds the House and Senate for including a provision that equalizes the tax rates on liquefied natural gas and liquefied petroleum gas with the rates on diesel and gasoline in their 90-day Highway Trust Fund extension.

“By equalizing the tax rates between LNG and traditional fuels, Congress has eliminated an unfair disadvantage in the taxation of LNG that has impeded wider use of natural gas vehicles,” Graves said.

However, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association isn’t as impressed with the bill.

Though the organization says there are positives to the highway bill, they argue that there are also shortcomings with regard to long-term funding, needed regulatory changes and highway safety.

“It’s a step forward in some ways, but there were missed opportunities for relevant, needed reforms to the agency that oversees commercial motor carriers. We have concerns that not only do many regulations fail to improve safety, but some may actually be undermining it,” said Todd Spencer, OOIDA’s executive vice-president.

“We originally had high hopes for the stronger bill that had come out of the Senate Commerce Committee and legislation like Senator Deb Fischer’s TRUCK Safety Reform Act (S.1669), both of which largely reflected the need for significant changes at the FMCSA.  Unfortunately, what could have been a great bill for small-business truckers was defeated by internal politics during negotiations by Senate Republican and Democratic leaders.”

The group argues that the bill misses an opportunity to require a comprehensive review of truck safety regulations to ensure that those on the books have an impact on reducing crashes.  It is also concerned that the bill’s lack of long-term funding options leaves the door open for the burdensome options of new toll lanes.

“The reauthorization of the highway bill represents the opportune time to inject updated, relevant changes that not only improve safety but keep the federal government from continuing to run over the rights of small businesses and professional truckers,” said Spencer. “Later this year the House of Representatives will consider their bill, and we look forward to working with the House and the Senate as this process moves forward to ensure that Congress not only passes a long-term reauthorization bill, but that that reauthorization bill is something small-business truckers can support.”

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