Barletta Victory: Obama Admin. Pauses Motor Carrier Rule
WASHINGTON – Congressman Lou Barletta (PA-11) today declared victory in getting the Obama Administration to back off of fast-tracking a new motor carrier safety rule that would have been based on a flaw safety program. The recent Highway Bill contained provisions of Barletta’s legislation to improve the safety score calculations for carriers by making the scores more reflective of a company’s safety record. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which is the lead U.S. Department of Transportation agency responsible for truck and bus safety, had appeared prematurely poised to amend safety regulations before the reforms were completed. It has now moved its plan onto the long-term actions list, which means no movement is expected for at least twelve months.
“This is about common sense and an accurate method of gauging the safety of motor carriers,” said Barletta, who led efforts to reform the CSA safety score program. “The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration must first fix the safety score program before it bases a new safety rule on it.”
Barletta led 33 members of his House colleagues in March in requesting that the powerful Appropriations Committee include in an annual spending bill a provision requiring the administration to wait until the Congressionally-mandated safety score program reforms were completed before basing the new safety fitness determination (SFD) rule on the flawed program. Following Barletta’s efforts, the draft Fiscal Year 2017 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Spending bill included the Barletta provision. The bill awaits consideration by the Appropriations Committee.
Acting in May, Barletta and Rep. Bob Gibbs (OH-7), both members of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, led more than 35 members of the House in urging the FMCSA to first fix the flawed safety score program before finalizing the new safety fitness determination rule. Barletta applauded the FMCSA decision to remove the new SFD rule from the active work plan and instead place it on the long-term plan. Presently, the agency’s position is that the next action on SFD is “undetermined.” The agency’s next agenda is expected to be released in December.
“As a father of four and grandfather of three, I worry every day about the safety of my family when they’re out on the roads,” Barletta said. “I strongly believe that unsafe vehicles should not be out there creating hazards, but safety scores must be based on a sound program. There is no reason for Congressional intent to be ignored.”
In both 2014 and 2015, Barletta authored the Safer Trucks and Buses Act, which temporarily halted the publication of flawed safety scores until the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Compliance Safety Accountability scoring system is revamped. Barletta’s language was included in the Highway Bill, otherwise known as the FAST Act (Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act), which became law in December 2015. In addition, the Transportation Appropriations bill currently under consideration includes a prohibition on using any funds to amend the safety regulations before the reforms are completed. Nevertheless, the Obama Administration had appeared determined to move ahead with its rulemaking despite this legislation.