DOT ’08 Appropriations Bill Clears House but Has Uncertain Future in Senate
Attached are copies of both the House and Senate FY 2008 Transportation-HUD Appropriations bills. The House passed its bill at the end of July prior to the August recess. In the Senate, although the Senate Appropriations Committee has passed the bill, the matter of scheduling it for a final vote on the Senate floor is somewhat uncertain. There is a possibility that it could be rolled into an omnibus appropriations bill and whether that will happen by September 30 is uncertain. Thus, there is a possibility of CR, but hopefully a short one. It may be that we will have a better idea about this scenario when Congress comes back after Labor Day, and, if so, we will advise you.
Both the House and Senate bills fund motor carrier safety grant programs, including MCSAP, at SAFETEA-LU authorized levels for 2008. As you can see, the Report language from both Committees deals with issues that should come as no surprise, such as new entrants, the compliance review process, targeting high risk carriers, and the implementation of FMCSA’s 2010 program. These are among the issues certain to be revisited in the upcoming reauthorization process as well.
SSRS Back Until January 1, 2008 Unless UCR Fee Structure is Published Soon
On August 3, the President signed the 9/11 bill which contained Section 1537 that we earlier reported on in the July 25 Legislative Update. This provision brings back SSRS (retroactive to January 1, 2007) until January 1, 2008 or the date when FMCSA published the rule establishing the UCR fee structure for 2007, whichever happens first.
FMCSA reports today that the final rule setting the fees has been cleared by the agency itself and by the Office of the Secretary of Transportation and is now pending at the Office of Management and Budget.
Thus far, there is no information indicating that any SSRS state has yet sent out invoices to the carriers collecting 2007 SSRS fees. However, many SSRS states are cutting back or shutting down safety programs due to the loss of revenue this year. It is not likely that they can wait much beyond the end of this month before they are forced to send out SSRS invoices if the rule establishing 2007 UCR fees is not published by then.