Stalled budget prompts new approach to ELD exemption status

Photo: FreightWaves

Photo: FreightWaves

Haulers of livestock and insects were given an indefinite exemption to the ELD mandate as a result of the ongoing string of temporary stop-gap measures to fund the federal government, and the uncertainty of whether a long-term budget deal will be signed by the end of this week.

The FMCSA on Dec. 14 changed the way it had been informing the public about how long a temporary waiver would last for haulers of livestock and insects. The waiver was originally granted as part of an omnibus spending bill signed by President Donald Trump on March 23 to fund the government through Sept. 30, its fiscal year.

Don’t miss it.  Register today .

Don’t miss it. Register today.

But the inability of Congress to pass a long-term funding proposal led to “minibus” funding measures since then, requiring FMCSA to update its website each time they’re passed. Instead, the FMCSA has stated on its website that the statutory exemption that allows livestock and insect haulers to continue to use paper logs “will remain in place until further notice,” reiterating that drivers do not need to carry documentation explaining the waiver.

“Because of the continuing resolutions, rather than keep juggling the dates, until there’s finality to the budget we’re just using the language ‘until further notice,’” an FMCSA source told FreightWaves.

Because the exemption was Congressionally directed it is part of the federal budget. However, the Department of Transportation, under which FMCSA resides, is one of seven federal agencies still being funded under a continuing resolution.

A two-week continuing resolution was signed on December 7, which means either a long-term appropriations bill or another continuing resolution must be passed before funding for these agencies expires on Dec. 21. President Trump has threatened to shut down the government if he fails to get Democrats to agree to fully fund a U.S.-Mexico border wall, and as of Dec. 18 the two sides remained at an impasse.

The livestock- and insect-haulers waiver is separate from an exemption – which is also tied to Congressional budget funding - that applies to agriculture haulers generally. It includes a 150 air-mile exemption, where a driver hauling an ag product from a “source” location, is exempt and those miles and time do not count against the driver’s hours of service.

A Senate bill introduced in May to permanently exempt ag and livestock haulers from the ELD rule stalled, so it would have to be reintroduced in the next Congress.