FMCSA to ‘Wind Down’ Historic COVID-19 Relief Exemptions to ‘Ensure Safety’
Washington D.C. – The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) intends to end COVID-19 relief measures in the coming months.
In a newly issued expanded modified Emergency Declaration waiving hours of service (HOS) rules for relief carriers through the end of May, the Agency indicated it will soon take steps to end such regulatory relief related to the pandemic.
“In the interest of ensuring continued commercial motor vehicle safety, it is FMCSA’s intention to wind down the exemptions granted under this Emergency Declaration and related COVID-19 regulatory relief measures to the extent possible,” the Agency said.
Since last March when former President Donald Trump declared the coronavirus pandemic a National Emergency, the FMCSA has issued a series of historic waivers and exemptions.
The measures range from matters such as: exempting relief carriers from HOS rules in all 50 states, providing additional flexibilities in CDL training and testing, pre-employment controlled substance testing, as well as CDL, CLP, and medical card renewals.
In fact, just this week the Agency said it would allow, but not require, States to extend the validity of CDLs, CLPs, and medical cards which expired after March 1, 2020 until May 31, 2021.
Where We’ve Been And Where We’re Going
As the pandemic escalated in May of 2020, President Trump signed an Executive Order (EO) giving broad authority to each Department head to slash regulations that could impede economic recovery.
During a televised cabinet meeting, Mr. Trump famously gave then Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao instructions to do more to provide regulatory relief.
“Elaine, you can do things that nobody would believe in your Department, the Department of Transportation,” he said.
By June though, despite the urging from the President, then FMCSA Acting Administrator Jim Mullen made clear the Agency would not be making any “wholesale changes” to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.
Even still, the Trump Administration operated under an EO signed in the early days of his term which required two regulations be cut before any new regulation could be added.
Those days are gone now as President Joe Biden quickly eliminated the 2-for-1 policy on his first day in office with an EO of his own.
“Regulations are an important tool for the federal government to address the crises facing the nation,” the Biden Administration said in announcing the move. “The Trump Administration unnecessarily hamstrung this critical tool by creating arbitrary obstacles to regulatory action.”
The Biden Administration clearly has a much more favorable view of imposing regulations to achieve certain policy objectives.
Time will tell which COVID-19 relief measures will be the first to go.
TransportationNation.com will continue to follow it for you.