(WASHINGTON) – The Teamsters today are lauding a new five-year, $305 billion transportation infrastructure bill set to be considered soon by Congress that would help rebuild America’s highway and rail networks after years of short-term fixes that hampered long-term planning and improvements.
The measure provides a substantial bump in funding from what was included in the House passed version of the bill last month. It also improves motorist safety by rejecting Teamster-opposed provisions that would have removed the ability of the states to implement rest and meal breaks for truck drivers and allowed up to 91,000 pound trucks on interstate highways, which the House wisely rejected earlier. Additionally, the legislation substantially restricts participation to veterans and reservists only in a pilot program designed to test the safety of teen drivers operating on interstate commerce and will include a study of school bus fleet safety.
“For years, road and rail infrastructure fell into disrepair because some in Congress couldn’t get their act together,” Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa said. “But this new spending bill shows what can happen when lawmakers work in a bipartisan fashion to find real answers for hardworking Americans. We applaud this breakthrough and look forward to improved transportation in the years to come.”
In an effort to spur action, the Teamsters in September introduced its “Let’s Get America Working” platform that called on Capitol Hill to come together and pass a long-term transportation spending bill, among other things. This legislation is an important step towards that goal.
Since 2008, Congress has transferred more than $62 billion from the general fund to keep the Highway Trust Fund afloat, and it has been more than a decade since Congress has passed a highway bill more than two years in duration. Meanwhile, infrastructure continued to crumble and the safety of those who are working and traveling along the vast system of U.S. roads and rails was being jeopardized.
While the measure doesn’t succeed in stopping states from petitioning for higher weight limits for bulk milk hauling, provides other highway and industry specific weight exemptions and allows the removal of Department of Transportation safety scores of motor carriers from public view while the agency reforms the program, overall it is a significant step forward in building out an infrastructure system that will allow us to better compete in the global economy. And for that, Congress should be congratulated for this major accomplishment.
Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Visit www.teamster.org for more information. Follow us on Twitter @Teamsters and “like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/teamsters.