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Senate Committee Holds FMCSA Administrator Confirmation Hearing

On January 20, 2016, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation held a confirmation hearing to consider the president’s nomination of T.F. Scott Darling, III to serve as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) administrator.

Senator Fischer (R-NE) chaired the hearing and focused her introductory remarks primarily on the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program. Senator Booker (D-NJ) served as the ranking member and focused his opening remarks on his concerns over the hours-of-service (HOS) restart suspension and the dangers of driver fatigue.

Mr. Darling gave a brief opening statement as well, highlighting the agency’s commitment to partnerships in the coming year, as well as plans to implement the various FAST Act provisions. In particular, he called out the grant consolidation, the Beyond Compliance program, CSA, and the various opportunities for veterans in the bill.

After opening statements, the senators in attendance asked questions. Their questions were largely centered around CSA, HOS, and the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) and Safety Fitness Determination (SFD) rules, and the implementation of various sections of the FAST Act. Senator Fischer asked Mr. Darling why the agency is moving forward with the ELD and SFD rules so soon after the FAST Act was passed, given that the bill contains new rulemaking requirements. Mr. Darling pointed out that those rules have been under development for many, many years and the agency stands by the proposals. In response to other questions, Mr. Darling indicated that the HOS study should be completed soon, as should the agency’s joint proposal with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on speed limiters.

Senator Fischer also asked about the agency’s progress on the requirements pertaining to guidance and petition reform. Mr. Darling indicated that the agency is currently working on a webpage to host information on petitions, as well as working to come up with a strategy for implementing the required changes to regulatory guidance.

You can view video from the hearing and find additional information, including opening statements, here.