Could shutdown affect hours-of-service reform efforts?

January 24, 2019

Jami Jones


Now that the partial government shutdown is heading into its second month with no clear end in sight, truckers continue to ask how it will affect them.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is still fully funded and all of its employees are on the job and not subject to the furloughs. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration was born out of the Federal Highway Administration, if you will, in 2000. The funding for FMCSA is provided by the Highway Trust Fund and is not subject to this particular standoff.

While the employees are exempt from the furlough and on the job, the future of hours-of-service reform could get a bit murky in spite of the intentions of FMCSA Administrator Ray Martinez to move quickly on the reform.

When agency personnel craft anything related to a rulemaking from the initial proposal to the final rule, it must receive clearance from the White House Office of Management and Budget.

A cursory review of activity at OMB shows only seven rulemaking documents have received clearance in the past 30 days – four days shy of the start of the shutdown and the extent of the report’s timeframe. There are currently 90 plus regulatory documents “under review” at OMB, a lot more than when the government is fully open for business.

The OMB’s website for Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, the regulatory review arm of the office, posted this notice on Jan. 7. All emphasis was in the original notice.

Update. DURING THE LAPSE OF APPROPRIATIONS, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs is conducting review of regulatory actions that are deemed excepted activity; therefore, the Regulatory Review Dashboard will be updated. Please contact us at to determine whether OIRA is accepting meetings with outside parties for any particular regulatory action under review.

The status of information collection requests (ICRs) currently under review, however, will not be updated on the ICR Dashboard. Updates on the status of these reviews will resume AFTER THE LAPSE OF APPROPRIATIONS IS RESOLVED.

The Washington Post reported that acting White House chief of staff Richard Mulvaney has requested agencies to report on programs that could be in danger if the shutdowns continues on into March or April.

If the shutdown lingers on into April, it could threaten any expedient movement on the hours-of-service reform, with speculation in the industry that FMCSA was eyeing March to possibly move on a proposed rulemaking.

Aside from that business in trucking – minus truckers hauling government loads and potentially waiting on furloughed employees to cut checks – is still pretty much the same, for now.

Infrastructure projects are widely reported in the media as being on hold in states like Oklahoma because of funding holdups because of the shutdown. While that is true, the effects of those delays would not be immediate as most are long-term projects, according to D.C. insiders. But states still feel the inconvenience in scheduling, planning and starting projects nonetheless.

There is some action in the House and Senate working on potential bills that could bring the shutdown to an end. Whether anything passes both chambers and President Donald Trump signs anything sent to his desk remains to be seen.