Blog Post

4 takeaways from Spear's Capitol Hill testimony

Feb 03, 2023
Chris Spear American Trucking Associations

With a new Congress underway, ATA President and CEO Chris Spear returned to Capitol Hill this week to press lawmakers on a host of issues impacting trucking. The chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee invited Spear to lead a panel of transportation stakeholders discussing infrastructure and supply chain challenges. You can watch his full opening remarks here.

Here are four key takeaways from his exchange with lawmakers:

FHWA needs to drop its IIJA funding memo.

Late last year, the Federal Highway Administration issued a memo encouraging states to prioritize roadway maintenance and non-highway modal projects over new highway capacity when receiving federal funds from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. This guidance runs counter to the intent of the law as written by Congress, and it risks steering critical funds away from projects that would improve freight mobility—priorities like highway bottlenecks, intermodal connectors, and truck parking capacity.

Time for California to get real about net-zero timelines. 

We need a realistic discussion about our nation’s energy and environmental policies. For four decades, ATA has worked with the EPA, producing phases I and II emission reduction rules. To date, 98.5% of all emissions have been removed from our tailpipes. In fact, 60 trucks today emit what 1 truck emitted in 1988. This is not a matter of if we get to zero, but when. We’ll get there — just not on the timelines proposed by California.  

Their rush to zero makes their timeline and targets unachievable, and they will fail. The rare minerals needed for millions of 5,000 lbs. truck batteries, the infrastructure needed to charge them and the additional electricity needed to power our trucks – full scale — doesn’t yet exist and won’t anytime soon. We’re committed to a cleaner environment, and we’ve proven that. We simply ask that we be realistic about the path forward.

Congress has to protect the IC model.

The independent contractor business model is under sustained attack from some in Congress and regulators at both the federal and state levels. California’s AB-5 has wreaked havoc on ICs, forcing many motor carriers to either engage in the wholesale reorganization of their business structures or leave California altogether. 

As Spear made clear in his testimony, these egregious policies not only threaten the supply chain — they rob scores of hardworking entrepreneurs of the choice, dream and freedom to run their own business. 

Dee Sova's FOX Business op-ed:

"I'm a successful female minority truck driver. California's AB5 forced me to leave the state I love."

The feds must step up on drug testing.

As more and more states legalize recreational marijuana, it falls on the federal government to mitigate the impact on highway safety. We need stronger safety standards in place, including the option for motor carriers to use hair testing, and not just urinalysis, for screening.