The House and Senate Appropriations Committees are slogging along through the 13 appropriations bills to fund the government and its agencies. While a promising process, these funding bills are unlikely to pass through regular order – but will hopefully serve as the foundation for any omnibus or series of “mini” spending bills Congress ends up passing later this year. That makes these bills important, not just for the spending levels, but also for the policy “riders” that entrust or forbid federal agencies from spending funds on certain rules and regulations.
Riders that make it into both the House and Senate versions of apportions bills are guaranteed to be included in any omni-or-minibus, while those only included in one chamber’s version could be dropped from the final bill.
This is why it is particularly unfortunate that the Senate Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations bill (S. 3023), does not include language updating a 32-year old trucking regulation that would allow Twin 33 trailers to be used nationwide by shipping and small regional freight companies. Updating this regulation, which is included in the House THUD Appropriations bill, will enable shippers to meet the increasing demands for shipping brought on by the e-commerce boom, while also lowering congestion and stress on roads and truck drivers. It will also help alleviate higher shipping costs, and keep costs lower for consumers on goods ordered online, who are also about to be hit by Internet sales taxes thanks to the Supreme Court.
Hopefully the Senate will agree to include the House language in their version of the Transportation Apportions bill when it is considered by the full Senate or goes into conference with the House. This would be a big boost to small business, shipping companies, truck drivers, and American consumers – and all without raising a dime on taxpayers. Win-win-win all around.