Senate committee to vote on FMCSA nomination

June 21, 2022

Mark Schremmer

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The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will consider the nomination of Robin Hutcheson as the administrator of the FMCSA during an executive session on June 22.

Hutcheson, who has served as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s acting administrator since January, was nominated for the permanent role in April. The committee is expected to vote during an executive session at 10 a.m. Eastern on Wednesday. If approved, Hutcheson’s nomination would then move to the full Senate.

Earlier this month, Hutcheson testified in front of the committee, discussing such topics as broker oversight, the creation of a Women of Trucking Advisory Board and highway safety.

“Currently, there is a spotlight on the trucking and motor coach industry, and, if confirmed, I intend to keep the light shining, as we work to carry out the primary safety mission of FMCSA,” Hutcheson said. “Fatalities are increasing dramatically on our nation’s roadways, with recent data showing that over 40,000 people lost their lives in 2021. Of those lost, 800 were commercial motor vehicle drivers. We must do better, and I am committed to working with FMCSA, our stakeholders, and member offices to reverse this unacceptable trend.”

Driver shortage?

The hearing also spent time discussing whether or not there is a driver shortage in the trucking industry.

“Do you believe there is a truck driver shortage in the United States of America?” Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., asked. “Not a trick question.”

Hutcheson responded, “Senator, I believe there is a truck driver shortage in the United States of America.”

The answer from Hutcheson appeared to be a deviation from the administration’s recent approach to the debate. The U.S. Department of Transportation and Department of Labor hosted a driver retention roundtable in July 2021 to look at ways to keep truck drivers in the industry.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association contends that there is not a driver shortage. Instead, OOIDA calls it a driver retention issue caused by low pay and poor working conditions.

Long wait for an FMCSA administrator

If Hutcheson is confirmed, she will become FMCSA’s first permanent administrator since Ray Martinez stepped down in October 2019.

Following Martinez’s departure, the agency has been led by acting Administrators Jim Mullen, Wiley Deck, Meera Joshi and Hutcheson. LL

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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.