A bipartisan coalition of lawmakers is pressuring the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to release the results of a study on the effects of new trucking regulations before the current fiscal year ends on September 12.  Fifty-one members of Congress sent a letter available here to DOT asking the agency to complete the legally required study on the new trucking hours of service and report its findings to Congress.

The new hours of service rule, which went into effect July, reduces the maximum number of hours truckers can work in one week and increases the required rest time between shifts.  The regulations, which trucking associations had 18 months to implement, have been derided by some lawmakers and stakeholders as costly and unnecessary.

Spearheading the effort is Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY), who told BNA that he is considering attaching an amendment to any fiscal year 2014 funding bill that would prevent the DOT from using federal dollars to implement the new regulations and, as a result, would like to review the study before the end of the current fiscal year.  It is unclear how successful an attempt to defund the regulation would be since Congress has limited time to cobble together a short-term fiscal 2014 spending bill before the end of September.  House Republican leadership could be reluctant to allow any controversial riders to a short-term continuing resolution in an effort to ensure the bill has enough Democratic support to pass.

In the letter, lawmakers criticized the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, a DOT agency, for implementing the new rules before the field study was completed.  As required in last year’s surface transportation law, the DOT was required to complete the field study on the rule’s effects by March 31 and report its findings to Congress by September 30.

The department missed its March deadline but has since finished the field study and could have the results to Congress by the end of the month. A DOT official said the department had received the letter and planned to respond to Rep. Hanna directly but did not say whether the study would be completed by the timeline outlined in the transportation law, known as Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21).  He also noted that “In MAP-21, Congress recognized the important safety benefits of the rule and did not require the study to be completed before the hours-of-serve requirements went into effect.”