Jeff Denham, whose amendment would have overturned separate state trucking rules, loses his seat

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The author of the Denham Amendment has been retired.

Jeff Denham, a Republican who represents California's 10th district, has lost his seat to Democratic challenger Josh Harder. Early ballot counting had Denham in the lead but multiple news reports more recently gave Harder a 4,900-vote lead, a margin that is said to be too large for Denham to overcome on the basis of still-uncounted ballots.

The Denham Amendment would have mandated that states could not override federal worker rules. The target was the California requirement that a truck driver takes a break after driving for five hours. That is in conflict with the federal law which requires the 30-minute break after at least eight hours of driving.

The Denham Amendment was added to the FAA authorization bill in the House. However, in September during negotiations between the House and Senate over the provisions in the FAA authorization, the amendment was removed.

The question of the federal vs. state tug-of-war goes on, however. In particular, FMCSA administrator Raymond Martinez, in a recent appearance before the American Trucking Associations meeting in Austin, was fairly direct in saying he had issues with state regulations that in essence modify federal rules. His statements drew strong applause.

The ATA has petitioned FMCSA to review the legality of California’s separate break rules.

Denham was a member of the House committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, and chaired the Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials.