The Senate continued floor debate on the transportation funding bill this week, much of the discussion happening on Thursday.
Sens. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) and David Vitter (R-La.) have proposed S. 49, the Railroad Antitrust Enforcement Act of 2011, be added to the larger bill. This legislation was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee in July 2011 and would remove most freight railroad exemptions to federal anti-trust laws, making rail transportation more competitive for customers.
In the House, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) announced his chamber will not take up its version until after a week-long Presidents’ Day recess. Boehner decided this week to break the bill into three chunks rather than consider it as an omnibus. While this could attract votes from Members opposed to some parts of the legislation, it could also complicate passing something that is comprehensive and able to be conferenced with a Senate-passed version.
More than 45 groups representing shipper interests wrote Senators on Thursday urging them to support adoption of S. 49 as an amendment to the legislation.
Another possible amendment could incorporate a bill, S. 1950, to reauthorize the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
Both the House and Senate are working on surface transportation funding bills, which could address a number of agriculture industry priorities.
Work is ongoing to ensure the three House bills and the Senate measure, S. 1813, address needed hours-of-service exemptions for ag producers; commercial drivers license requirements for fuel transportation; and truck weight issues unique to farming operations.
Source: National Association of Wheat Growers