Highway Bill Passes Senate; Conference Not Yet Under Way
On Tuesday, May 17, the Senate passed its version of the Highway bill by a vote of 89-11, setting the stage for a Conference with the House.
However, no Conferees have been appointed. As of this writing, the Senate Majority and Minority Leadership have not yet decided on the number of Democrats and Republicans who should be part of the Conference.
Therefore, it is all but certain that work on the Conference bill will not be finished by May 31, which is the expiration date of the current short-term extension of TEA-21. Some form of extension will be necessary and reportedly the Senate and House leadership are discussing it. As soon as we know the details, we will report them.
Thus far, states have received nine months (three-fourths) of their Fiscal Year 2005 MCSAP funding. The type and length of the next extension will determine how the funds for the remaining quarter will be allocated.
There were no significant changes on motor carrier safety issues in the Senate-passed bill from what we reported in the May 5th Legislative Update as it came out of the Senate Commerce Committee. The section on Decals (7126) remains unchanged and reads: “The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance may not restrict the sale of any inspection decal to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration unless the Administration fails to meet its responsibilities under its memorandum of understanding with the Alliance (other than a failure due to the Administration’s compliance with Federal law)”. CVSA supports this language.
Finally, this correction should be noted with respect to the May 5th Legislative Update. We reported on Section 4116 in the House bill, Driveaway Saddlemount Vehicles, as referring to automobile transporters. It does not. It refers to the transportation of new trucks. We apologize for the error. The provision would increase the overall length of a saddlemount with fullmount vehicle transporter combinations to 97 feet from 75 feet. The effect would be to allow up to four new trucks in “piggyback” combinations. CVSA opposes this provision. At this time, these loads are regulated by permit in the states confining their operations to the limited number of roads that can accommodate these lengths.