On February 1, 2023, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee held its first hearing of the 118th Congress on “The State of Transportation Infrastructure and Supply Chain Challenges”.
In opening remarks, Committee Chair Sam Graves noted that the focus of the Committee will be to ensure that the $1.2 trillion that was provided by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is spent responsibly and directed toward making the Nation’s transportation supply chain more efficient and resilient. Hearing witnesses included representatives from the trucking, rail, ports and construction industries as well as and labor unions.
Speaking on behalf of the American Trucking Associations, President and CEO Chris Spear outlined ways that Congress could help alleviate the chronic shortage of qualified truck drivers, reduce congestion on highways and provide better truck parking facilities. He was critical of the Federal Highway Administration’s plan to allocate IIJA money towards existing roads and bridges, while the trucking industry loses nearly $75 billion a year, burning $34 billion worth of fuel, just sitting in congestion. He asked Congress to ensure that truck drivers are given access to “safe, secure, well-lit parking”, referring to the many trucks parked precariously along on- and off-ramps as “a major inefficiency in our supply chain”.
Mr. Spear urged Congress not to put up barriers to independent contractor relationships, referring to initiatives like California’s AB-5 legislation as an attempt “to reform entire state law or national law based on an anecdote”. This, he said, will only exacerbate the driver shortage problem and drive up the cost of everyday goods. He noted that the current driver deficit is around 78,000.
Mr. Spear’s written submissions to the Committee are available for download online, at: HHRG-118-PW00-Wstate-SpearC-20230201.pdf (house.gov)