Truckers stepped up in 2020; now it’s our lawmakers’ turn

December 2020/January 2021

Todd Spencer

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As I write this, Election 2020 is wrapping up with only a few spots left undecided. This election has been different than most, especially so with the health issues raised by the pandemic and the overall contentious mood of much of the population.

In all, well over 150 million people will have cast ballots. And I would wager that at least 80% of those who voted along with likely another 30 million who didn’t bother to vote have one thing in common – they don’t believe the people they send to Washington, D.C., really give a hoot about their overall welfare. How can you blame them for feeling that way?

It hasn’t been all that long ago that after an election, members of the U.S. House of Representatives that serve two-year terms would spend the first year of that term actually trying to do something to address issues of real people and table the increasingly hardball politics until the actual year of their reelection. Not anymore. Now when one election ends, the next begins with scarcely a thought to addressing many of the big issues in the nation. It isn’t much different in the Senate either, but with six-year term, the never-ending campaigning is more a deliberate choice, not pushed by the calendar.

Professional truckers are among the groups that don’t believe lawmakers care or have a clue about what they do and how absolutely essential they are to our nation’s survival. Essential is not an exaggeration. Always essential is the reality. Nothing made this point clearer than the pandemic. When store shelves were depleted, truckers came through delivering life essentials, just as they always do. They did it by setting aside their personal health concerns and too often simply sucking it up instead of having access to good, healthy food and restrooms.

Truckers come through for America every time and they will again.

The pandemic isn’t going away, making more people sick and too many die. Businesses scale back and some close. Great economic harm has already affected many people and may get worse. Good news is hopefully on the horizon in the form of vaccines that can stop the spread and save lives, thankfully. Who will bring it to the masses? Truckers, that’s who.

The importance of trucking to this nation has never been more apparent. It’s time that our lawmakers got that message and showed some appreciation. Having a place to stop and rest when you are weary isn’t asking a lot from lawmakers, even if they are programmed for partisan battles.

HR6104 is a bipartisan bill that provides money for the creation of new parking capacity. New spots for rest that are badly needed. Our society can only prosper with dependable transportation, and without it it’s just the opposite.

HR6104 will have to be reintroduced with a new number in the next Congress, and we will keep you updated with relevant information. Until then, truckers should continue to reach out to their lawmakers and ask them to cosponsor the bill.

A bipartisan House and Senate should grab it and pass it while truckers are delivering life’s essentials and the vaccines. They are counting on us to do our part. Now, it’s their turn. LL

Prepass
Todd Spencer

Todd Spencer is the president and CEO of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association. He began his career as a truck driver in 1974 and then began working at OOIDA in 1981. He became OOIDA’s executive vice president in 1992 and was elected as the Association’s president in 2018.