In a letter yesterday, Department of Transportation ("DOT") Secretary Ray LaHood defended the work of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in drafting the revised Hours of Service regulation and urged senators, particularly Sen. Kelly Ayotte, to not amend the revised rule. Ayotte's amendment would cut off funds to enforce or implement the new rule.
He told Ayotte that the amendment would prevent the agency from applying comprehensive and up-to-date data and analysis to the issue of driver fatigue and hours of service. Additionally, he said that the new rule might grant some sectors of the trucking industry new operational flexibility, but did not explain what he meant by that.
On Sunday, the amendment was in line to be considered as part of the 2012 transportation appropriations bill. As of that night the Senate had not yet taken it up and it was not clear when, or even if, it would be taken up. There are numerous amendments awaiting action, and this one is likely to face opposition from safety groups that are committed to changing the hours of service rule.
The rule is scheduled to be published Oct. 28, but it appears unlikely that the agency will meet that deadline. With just seven days to go, it still must be vetted by the White House Office of Management and Budget ("OMB"). As Sunday night, it still had not been sent over to OMB from the DOT.