OOIDA: Infrastructure plan shouldn’t single out truckers

March-April 2020

Mark Schremmer


OOIDA’s message has been clear. Lawmakers shouldn’t look to truck drivers as the primary solution to their highway funding woes. Any highway funding proposal should not disproportionately burden truckers, OOIDA told members of the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee in a letter sent in late January.

Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., the chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, unveiled on Jan. 29 the framework for a five-year, $760 billion investment in the nation’s infrastructure.

According to the framework of the plan, it would aim to address a massive maintenance backlog, design safer streets, and put the United States on a path toward zero emissions from the transportation sector.

“Our country has changed dramatically since the 1950s, yet people and goods are now literally stuck trying to move on transportation networks first developed nearly 70 years ago,” DeFazio said in a news release. “It’s past time for transformational investments to make our infrastructure smarter, safer, and resilient to climate change, or else we will keep throwing money at an antiquated system that is only holding us and our economy back.

“The framework we released today is the launchpad we need to move forward on those transformational investments and curb carbon pollution. In the coming months, I look forward to continuing our work to make this framework a reality. The cost of inaction is too great.”

Plan’s goals

  • Bringing existing infrastructure into a state of good repair and enabling the completion of critical projects through long-term, sustainable funding.
  • Setting a path toward zero carbon pollution from the transportation sector, creating jobs, protecting natural resources, promoting environmental justice, and increasing resiliency to climate change.
  • Ensuring a transportation system that is green, affordable, reliable, and efficient while providing access to jobs.
  • Providing safe, clean, and affordable water and wastewater services.
  • Prioritizing the safety of the traveling public.
  • Helping combat climate change by creating good-paying jobs in clean energy, investing in energy efficiency, and reducing greenhouse gas pollution.
  • Expanding broadband internet access and adoption for unserved and underserved rural, suburban and urban communities.
  • Modernizing 911 public safety networks.
  • Creating family-wage jobs and other strong worker protections.
  • Supporting U.S. industries, including steel and manufacturing through strong buy-American protections.

OOIDA’s stance

OOIDA said it recognizes the urgency of improving the nation’s infrastructure and looks forward to working closely with lawmakers to make sure a plan is put in place that does not burden small-business truckers.

“We applaud Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Peter DeFazio’s efforts to boost critical funding for our nation’s highways,” OOIDA President and CEO Todd Spencer said in a statement. “This significant investment will improve road conditions, reduce congestion, and enhance highway safety.

“However, we remain skeptical of several proposals being promoted by his colleagues to generate the revenue necessary to fund this proposal, in particular a vehicle miles traveled tax – especially one that is exclusive to the trucking industry. We also strongly oppose any expansion of tolling authority. We realize more fuel-efficient vehicles and electric vehicles aren’t paying their fair share, which is why Congress should be focused on creating equity among all users without imposing a vast new federal tax regime on millions of truckers who oppose it.”

On Jan. 28, OOIDA sent letters to the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee, stressing that a highway funding proposal should not disproportionately burden truckers.

“We believe it makes no sense to single out an industry, whether through a VMT tax or tolling, that already has a stable funding mechanism that can be improved upon,” OOIDA wrote.

“As your committee considers ways to raise revenue for the Highway Trust Fund, we hope that you will keep America’s small-business truckers’ concerns in mind.” LL

Mark Schremmer

Mark Schremmer, senior editor, joined Land Line in 2015. An award-winning journalist and former assistant news editor at The Topeka Capital-Journal, he brings fresh ideas, solid reporting skills, and more than two decades of journalism experience to our staff.