ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA, US — The US House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has advanced several bills to address operational flexibility and a driver shortage in the nation’s trucking industry, and the National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) is onboard with its support.

“Our members rely on a strong trucking transportation system to move America’s food, fuel and fiber,” the NGFA said. “By supporting these bills, Congress can achieve positive benefits for the environment while improving the economic competitiveness of the United States. We look forward to working with lawmakers to ensure these provisions are passed into law.”

The NGFA consists of grain, feed, processing, exporting and other grain-related companies that operate more than 8,000 facilities handling US grains and oilseeds. Over the past week, NGFA members contacted lawmakers to support the following items that were approved during a committee markup May 23:

Licensing Individual Commercial Exam-takers Now Safety and Efficiently (LICENSE) Act of 2023

The bill eliminates regulatory barriers and addresses truck driver shortages by making permanent commonsense waivers issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) during the Trump administration in response to COVID-19 and extended by the Biden administration. 

The bill allows states and third-party examiners more flexibility in administering CDL tests and allows a state to administer driving skills tests to any out-of-state CDL applicant, regardless of where the applicant received driver training. 

10% Axle Variance for Dry Bulk

The provision does not increase the overall Federal Gross Vehicle Weight limit but allows for a 10% axle variance for “Dry Bulk.” This language passed the committee in the past two Congresses. 

Dry bulk is defined as “homogenous unmarked nonliquid cargo being transported in a trailer specifically designed for that purpose.” When dry bulk loads shift, they may not easily redistribute across axles. The natural motion of the truck causes the load to be improperly distributed. 

Developing Responsible Individuals for a Vibrant Economy (DRIVE) Safe Integrity Act 

The bill supports 18- to 20-year-old Commercial Motor Vehicle drivers and the Infrastructure Investment and Job Act’s three-year pilot program. The bill increases FMCSA reporting requirements for the pilot program to ensure greater transparency as the program is implemented. 

Barring sufficient data, the bill says the Department of Transportation shall move forward with regulations to allow 18 to 20-year-old CMV drivers to operate across state lines one year after the pilot program ends.

91,000-Pound Weight Exemption Pilot Program

The bill establishes a voluntary 10-year pilot program for states to increase truck weights on federal interstates up to 91,000 pounds on six axles. The program must comply with the Federal Bridge Formula and does not include Longer Combination Vehicles, such as doubles or triples.