Moving Forward Act going nowhere, Senate Republicans say

July 2, 2020

Mark Schremmer

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The U.S. House of Representatives passed a massive $1.5 trillion infrastructure package, which includes a $494 billion highway bill, on Wednesday, July 1.

However, Senate Republicans have already called the partisan legislation dead on arrival.

“This so-called infrastructure bill would siphon billions in funding from actual infrastructure to funnel into climate change policies,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a news release.

“No wonder it came out of committee in the House on a purely partisan vote. No wonder the White House has declared it ‘not a serious proposal’ and made it clear this will never become law. So naturally, this nonsense is not going anywhere in the Senate. It will just join the list of absurd House proposals that were only drawn up to show fealty to the radical left.”

How we got here

On June 3, House Transportation and Infrastructure Chair Peter DeFazio released the text of a highway bill that would authorize nearly $500 billion over five years to tackle the nation’s infrastructure needs.

The original version of the INVEST in America Act included several trucker-friendly provisions and received support from the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.

OOIDA specifically touted provisions for increased funding for highway construction, $250 million for truck parking projects, new restrictions on tolling, limits to excessive detention time and predatory lease-to-own schemes, and further analysis on H-1B visa use within the trucking industry.

The Association also was pleased that the original bill didn’t include “anti-trucker” provisions, such as mandates for speed limiters or side underride guards, increases to weigh limits or the minimum insurance requirements, and the DRIVE-Safe Act, which would move toward allowing 18-year-olds to operate a commercial motor vehicle in interstate commerce.

That all changed on June 17 when the House T&I Committee voted to approve an amendment to the highway bill that would increase minimum insurance requirements for motor carriers to be increased from $750,000 to $2 million.

OOIDA called the amendment proposed by Rep. Chuy Garcia, D-Ill., a “poison pill” and withdrew its support from the highway bill. The Association said the increase would negatively affect highway safety and would force many owner-operators and small motor carriers out of business.

Despite the opposition, the overall highway bill was approved by the T&I committee with a 35-25 party-line vote on June 18.

Then the legislation became even more partisan when the highway bill was rolled into the Moving Forward Act, a $1.5 trillion infrastructure package.

The full House passed the bill with a 233-188 vote on July 1.

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.