A bill that was recently introduced by U.S. Representative Brian Babin to the Congress to delay the ELD mandate is unlikely to gain enough support to become law.
The bill, entitled “H.R. 3282, the ELD Extension Act of 2017,” was introduced to the House of Representatives on July 18, 2017, and was referred to the House’s Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.
The bill seeks to amend 49 U.S.C. § 31137(b)(1)(C) by changing the enforcement time frame of “two years” after the final rule publication to “four years” instead — thereby moving the ELD mandate compliance date from December 18, 2017, to December 18, 2019.
However, with the major hurdles that the legislation needs to overcome before turning the bill into law, and with only a few months left before the compliance date of the ELD mandate, the chances of the bill becoming law seem bleak.
The ELD Mandate Delay
Texas Representative Brian Babin recently introduced the ELD Extension Act of 2017 to the House of Representatives. The bill was filed just a day after the USDOT was recommended by a House Panel to study if the ELD mandate is in need of a “full or targeted delay.”
A recently released report by the House Appropriations Committee also shows a couple of reasons why some legislators deem a delay to the ELD mandate as necessary. One of the arguments is that the mandate appears to impose the compliance burden on small carriers.
Another concern that was reported involves “significant technological concerns” raised by the public that still remains unresolved. These issues include connectivity problems, device vulnerabilities, law enforcement data access, and device certification.
As of the moment, over 21 House of Representative members have signed as co-sponsors of the Extension Act.
The bill can also be attached and integrated into a broader legislation besides being filed as a standalone bill, such as being inserted into the DOT appropriations bills that are currently in progress by both chambers of the Congress.
For the bill to become law, it must be passed by both chambers of the Congress and approved by President Trump. If any differences arise in the bills passed by both chambers, then the Congress has to confer and come up with a unified bill.
The bill, however, holds minor weight in terms of prioritization as compared to other larger issues that are sucking up the time and energy of the Congress in Washington — such as tax reform, healthcare reform, and the 2018 appropriations.
Also, if the standalone bill was to be converted into an integrated provision in an appropriations bill instead, the chances of it being approved are still slim due to the Senate’s Appropriation not mentioning even a hint on the ELD mandate.
Even house lawmakers seem a bit reluctant about the delay in their side of the appropriation bill, as the current language in the bill only suggests the DOT to examine whether a delay to the mandate is needed.
Comments and Reactions
In response to the proposed delay, different comments and reactions were garnered by various trucking groups and associations.
Todd Spencer, the executive vice president of OOIDA, mentioned in a press release:
“The agency has failed to answer important questions from Congress and industry stakeholders about this mandate.…This includes issues related to enforcement, connectivity, data transfers, cyber security vulnerabilities, and many other legitimate real world concerns.”
In this release, Spencer gave his thanks to Representative Babin for recognizing the problems which are associated with the mandate’s implementation and can be avoided by delaying the mandate.
However, Bill Sullivan (executive vice president of advocacy of ATA) wrote a letter to Daphne Jefferson (deputy administrator of the FMCSA), strongly dissenting against the delay supporters:
“Supporters of a delay are attempting to accomplish, almost at the 11th hour, what they’ve been unable to do in the courts, Congress or with the agency: roll back this common sense, data-supported regulation based on at best specious and at worst outright dishonest arguments.”
He ended his letter with firm convictions, saying:
“ATA strongly supports the FMCSA’s electronic logging device mandate and urges Congress to not interfere in the Agency’s efforts to improve safety by meeting this important regulatory deadline.”
With the way things are going in the government branches — the attempts to repeal the ELD mandate being thwarted by the Supreme Court and the Congress not making a fuss about any policy changes — the chances are looking favorable for the ELD mandate to be implemented as scheduled.
With how the ELD’s compliance date is plowing through the weeks, one of the best things that the truckers can do — those who have yet to buy ELD — is to use a logbook app. That way, they’ll have a feel of the ELD’s user interface even before the hardware is installed. Moreover, it will help them get in the mindset of recording their Hours of Service electronically.
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