FMCSA Recently Delayed Rate Intrusion Rulemaking:
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has set a date for a rulemaking process to amend truck broker contracting requirements, but this timeline has frustrated small-business truckers who have been advocating for increased transparency. The DOT's latest regulatory agenda has scheduled a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) titled "Transparency in Property Carrier Broker Transactions" for October 31, 2024. This is obviously good news for TIA and its members – TIA has been a fierce critic of this proposal since its original introduction around four years ago. TIA Policy Forum attendees were able to question FMCSA representatives about this issue during the annual Policy Forum event that occurred in late September in Washington, DC. We appreciate those who laid out to the FMCSA this rule’s negative impact on the industry if implemented.
This schedule comes more than four years after the Small Business in Transportation Coalition (SBTC) and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) petitioned the FMCSA to make changes aimed at “leveling” the playing field in broker-carrier contracting. The organizations in favor have argued via the NPRM that brokers should provide transaction information electronically within 48 hours of the completion of contractual services and that brokers should be prohibited from including contract provisions that require carriers to waive their rights to access transaction records.
While the FMCSA has set a timeline for broker transparency rulemaking, delays and disagreements continue to complicate the process. Logistics industry stakeholders will be closely watching developments in this area. TIA will continue to follow this issue closely and update you accordingly.
FAA Reauthorization Still in Limbo:
Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Commerce Committee, has stated that senators are still conflicted over pilot training rules, particularly the 1,500-hour rule for commercial pilots, which has been a point of contrasting views in FAA reauthorization discussions. Chairwoman Cantwell believes it's premature for Congress to act on this issue before ongoing discussions within the FAA's Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) on simulator training are concluded. The ARC is currently studying the best practices for using simulators in pilot training requirements.
Senator Cantwell emphasized the need for uniform standards regarding simulator training that could lay the foundation for improved pilot training and possibly increasing the number of pilots. While there is large-scale agreement in the committee that the United States needs more pilots, there are differing opinions on how to achieve this without risking safety procedures in the process. Senator Cantwell sees the findings of the ARC as valuable in informing future decisions on pilot training standards.
The debate over changing the 1,500-hour rule has held up the Senate's FAA reauthorization bill, S. 1939. Senators John Thune (R-SD) and Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ) have proposed changes to the rule, while Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) has been a consistent opponent. The FAA's next administrator, Mike Whitaker, emphasized the importance of clearly defining how simulators can be leveraged for pilot training, acknowledging that there are various types of simulators and questions about their use.
Cantwell remains cautious about changing the rules without sufficient evidence and believes that the ongoing ARC process should provide valuable insights into the best approach to pilot training and safety. She also disagrees with a letter from six former FAA administrators calling for Congress to add additional flight simulator time. The issue remains a significant point of discussion within the Senate Commerce Committee and movement of the FAA reauthorization bill will be stalled until agreement is reached.
GOP Making Progress in new Speaker Nomination:
As of Wednesday (10/11/23) the House Republicans have anonymously selected current Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-1st/LA) as their nominee for Speaker of the House, setting up a floor election to fill the position left vacant after Rep. Kevin McCarthy's (R-20th/CA) historic ousting. Congressman Scalise defeated Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-4th/OH) by a vote of 113 to 99 in a closed-door meeting. Congressman Scalise will now need to secure 217 votes from the full House to become the Speaker, which now consists of talking to the 99 who voted for Congressman Jordan and hearing out their concerns.
The House had been in a standstill since McCarthy's removal, and there was a sense of urgency to fill the role, especially considering the recent attacks in Israel.
Republicans did not publicly cast votes for Speaker McCarthy's successor; instead, Congressman Scalise was selected as their nominee by secret ballot. Congressman Scalise's nomination reflects his ascent in GOP leadership, having previously held positions such as majority and minority whip and majority leader.
An amendment to conference rules that would have raised the nomination threshold to 217 votes was tabled. This rule change sought to avoid multiple rounds of voting, similar to Speaker McCarthy's bid for speaker in January, which took four days and 15 ballots.
The House Republican conference held a candidate forum and Q&A session with the candidates, though it appeared that neither had secured a majority of support. The question now is can, the GOP move this vote for a new Speaker to the House floor without having the 217 required votes from his caucus? This is obviously assuming every Democrat remains supportive of Minority Leader Hakeem Jefferies (D-8th/NY) as they did in January.