Trump signs $1.3 trillion spending bill; trucking exemptions in, Denham measure out

President Donald Trump praised the increases the bill provides for military spending and said he had “no choice but to fund our military,” AP reported.

WASHINGTON — After hinting that he might not sign it, President Donald Trump inked a $1.3 trillion spending measure Friday, averting a midnight government shutdown, The Associated Press reported.

Under the appropriations bill, livestock and insect haulers are exempt from the ELD mandate through September 30, because that’s when the appropriations end, according to Adrienne Gildea, deputy executive director of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA), whose officers are tasked with enforcing ELD compliance and various safety regulations.

Other argi haulers have until June 18 to comply with the ELD mandate, she noted, “unless FMCSA issues any further waivers or exemptions.”

However, some agriculture transporters are exempt from the Hours of Service if they’re hauling within a 150-air-mile radius of their farm or ranch, Gildea added.

That may beg the question of why an exemption would be needed in the first place since ELDs are a tool to electronically log HOS, said one trucking observer familiar with the proceedings.

What’s in the omnibus bill bothers some stakeholders a lot less than what’s not in it.

It doesn’t contain what’s known as the Denham Amendment, which would keep states from adopting their own HOS rules concerning meal and rest breaks and lead to what are referred to as “patchwork” rules differing from one state to the next and more importantly, from the federal HOS, themselves.

Opponents to the amendment say it would keep states from requiring carriers to give drivers paid meal and rest breaks and protect carriers from being required to pay drivers for non-driving tasks.

Both the Truckload Carriers Association and the American Trucking Associations have argued that having one federal rule across the board and across state lines is the safer and simpler way to govern HOS.

TCA Vice President of Government Affairs David Heller said the Denham Amendment was “negotiated out” of the final budget and a “casualty of war.”

According to the FMCSA website, “covered farm vehicles of 26,001 pounds or more operated by a farmer or an employee of the farmer are exempted from the HOS and CDL regulations if the vehicle is operated anywhere in the state of registration or across state lines within a 150-air mile radius of the farm or ranch with respect to which the vehicle is being operated.

“Drivers who transport agricultural commodities within a 150-air mile radius of the farm or ranch with respect to which the vehicle is being operated are also exempted from the HOS regulations.”

Trump did say he was “very disappointed” in the funding package, in part because it did not fully fund his plans for a border wall with Mexico and did not address some 700,000 “Dreamer” immigrants who are now protected from deportation under a program that he has moved to eliminate.

But the president praised the increases the bill provides for military spending and said he had “no choice but to fund our military,” AP reported.

“My highest duty is to keep America safe,” Trump said.

The bill signing came a few hours after Trump tweeted that he was “considering” a veto.

With Congress already on recess, and a government shutdown looming, he said that young immigrants now protected in the U.S. under Barack Obama’s Delayed Action for Childhood Arrivals “have been totally abandoned by the Democrats (not even mentioned in bill) and the border wall, which is desperately needed for our national defense, is not fully funded.”

Trump’s veto threat was at odds with top members of his party.

The White House also issued a formal statement of administration policy indicating Trump would sign the bill, the AP report said.

That matched what The Hill had reported earlier.

The House approved the spending package Thursday, 256-167, a bipartisan tally that underscored the popularity of the compromise, which funds the government through September, stated the AP article. It beefs up military and domestic programs, delivering federal funds to every corner of the country.

But action stalled in the Senate, as conservatives ran the clock in protest. Once the opponents relented, the Senate began voting, clearing the package by a 65-32 vote, according to AP.

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