Bipartisan bill aims to alleviate supply chain issues with trucking reforms

New trucking schools look to expedite drivers, supply chain rebound

FOX Business’ Connell McShane reports from Conley, Georgia, where Roadmaster Drivers School has doubled its number of locations over the last two years.

FIRST ON FOX: Sens. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., and Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., on Wednesday introduced a bill to mitigate supply chain disruptions with trucking industry reforms.

"One of the first steps towards fixing our current supply chain crises is to increase the number of truck drivers delivering goods to stores around the country," Lummis said in a Wednesday statement to Fox News Digital. "As a rural state, Wyoming is particularly reliant on trucking, but streamlining commercial driver’s licensing and getting rid of overly burdensome regulations will benefit everyone, whether you live in Manhattan or Cheyenne."

Senator-elect Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) meets with the media on November 9, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Stefani Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images)

The Licensing Individual Commercial Exam-takers Now Safely and Efficiently (LICENSE) Act, sponsored by bipartisan Reps. Darin LaHood, R-Ill.; Troy Balderson, R-Ohio; Henry Cuellar, D-Texas; and Josh Harder, D-Calif., would make permanent several waivers implemented by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) last November in response to COVID-19.

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The FMCSA waivers extended the validity of commercial drivers licenses (CDLs) and commercial learners permits (CLPs) and made obtaining such licenses a faster and easier process, among other regulatory adjustments.

The LICENSE Act would allow third-party license examiners to administer the CDL skills test without completing a training course first; allow licensed drivers accompanying CLP holders to move from the front seat of a truck to its sleep compartment; and allow states to administer driving skills tests to potential out-of-state drivers.

A trucker fuels up at the Love’s Truck Stop in Springville, Utah, on December 1, 2021. (Photo by GEORGE FREY/AFP via Getty Images)

"The pandemic continues to impact our supply chains and Arizonans are feeling the strain of higher prices at the supermarket and the gas pump," Kelly said. "Our bipartisan bill cuts red tape and boosts our trucking workforce so we can safely and quickly deliver essential supplies and goods across the country."

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The American Trucking Associations endorsed the senators' bill, saying in a letter to Lummis and Kelly, "In the context of the current supply chain disruptions, the LICENSE Act is a sensible remedy to the unnecessary regulatory barriers that make the CDL training and testing process so arduous."

President Biden on Dec. 16, 2021 introduced the "Trucking Action Plan" to "strengthen America's trucking workforce." The plan includes easier access to commercial driver’s licenses, an effort to get companies to expand Registered Apprenticeship programs and efforts to strengthen veteran outreach.

Senator Mark Kelly, a Democrat from Arizona, walks through the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2021. Photographer: Amanda Andrade-Rhoades/Bloomberg (Getty Images)

American Trucking Associations President and CEO Chris Spear told FOX Business' "Mornings with Maria" in January that a "chronic shortage of talent" in the trucking industry was impacting the U.S. supply chain, leading cargo to sit unused and unloaded at U.S. ports.

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"I think a year of policies that have led us there generally stem from rewarding people not to return to work," he continued, noting that he believes that has contributed to the "chronic shortage of talent, not just in trucking where we’re short 81,000 drivers, but across every sector of employment."

The consumer price index rose 7% in December from a year ago, according to a Labor Department report released last month, marking the fastest increase since June 1982, when inflation hit 7.1%. The CPI – which measures a bevy of goods ranging from gasoline and health care to groceries and rents – jumped 0.5% in the one-month period from November.

FOX Business’ Talia Kaplan and Megan Henney contributed to this report. 

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