DeFazio promises truck parking funds, credits OOIDA’s Spencer
February 11, 2021
House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure chairman Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., has promised to “meaningfully address” truck parking in the pending highway bill after discussing the issue with Todd Spencer, president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.
DeFazio referenced the conversation with Spencer on Wednesday, Feb. 10, during a markup hearing for the committee’s portion of President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 relief proposal, after Rep. Mike Bost, R-Ill., introduced an amendment to the package that directly addresses truck parking.
“I had a long talk with Todd Spencer with OOIDA last week,” DeFazio said to Bost. “We delved into many issues, but one of the most prominent issues was truck parking. I promised him that we would meaningfully address that issue in (the highway bill), and I’ll be happy to work with you on that where we can access the Highway Trust Fund and dedicate some dollars to it.”
Bost’s proposed amendment was essentially a copy of his Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act introduced to Congress last year. The amendment sought $755 million over five years specifically for adding truck parking capacity. Bost withdrew his amendment with the understanding that DeFazio and the committee will work with him to address truck parking.
During the hearing, Bost said that the need for truckers has increased during the pandemic, but parking has remained too low. He talked about the numerous federal studies, including the Jason’s Law Truck Parking Survey, which have clearly established the problem.
Listen to Rep. Peter DeFazio’s promise
“Over the past year, truckers have been working around the clock,” Bost said. They have been driving day and night to make sure food and supplies make it to our grocery store shelves, but unfortunately, this $96 billion bill makes no mention of funding for truck parking. This is a missed opportunity. Truck parking is not a Republican issue. It’s not a Democrat issue. The safety of our nation’s truckers should be a concern for all of us.”
DeFazio’s comments are the first sign that Congress will consider funding for truck parking capacity. Bost’s truck parking bill during the last Congress gained bipartisan support. However, it never reached the finish line before the start of the new Congress. After DeFazio’s comments, it appears Bost’s bill will likely be included when the House drafts its highway bill.
OOIDA welcomed DeFazio’s pledge.
“We are grateful for Chairman DeFazio’s promise to address truck parking in the upcoming highway bill,” said Bryce Mongeon, OOIDA’s director of legislative affairs. “OOIDA appreciated the $250 million that he proposed for truck parking last year, but we know that more funding is needed if we are really going to fix this issue. Addressing the truck parking shortage is not a Republican or Democratic issue, and we look forward to working with the Chairman and both parties in Congress to dedicating more funding to this safety problem.”
With a 39-25 vote, the committee approved more than $40 billion for transportation needs. Funding for highways or anything trucking related was not included.
Of the more than $40 billion approved on Wednesday, the bulk went to transit agencies. The committee allocated $30 billion to support essential transit and rural intercity bus service and provide lifesaving personal protective equipment. The funding is expected to help about 435,000 transit workers. LL