Highway funding plan includes driver pay for all on-duty hours

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Updated Apr 3, 2015

Included in the Obama Administration’s federal highway funding plan resubmitted Monday is a provision that would require drivers be paid for all on-duty hours and not just time spent driving.

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx Monday resubmitted to Congress his and the White House’s highway funding plan, which this go-around is a six-year, $478 billion transportation reauthorization package that ups both the length and the price tag from last year’s more modest Grow America Act. The bill, however, retains the same name.

According to the DOT’s summary of the bill, carriers would be required to pay drivers at least the rate of federal minimum wage for things like detention time at shippers and receivers and “other similar non-driving work periods.”

The legislation also designated $18 billion to planning multimodal freight networks. It would award money to projects that shippers, transportation companies and other stakeholders deem would improve efficiency in the flow of U.S. freight.

The bill in total relies on repatriation taxes — a 14 percent rate meant to incentivize companies to bring previously untaxed foreign earnings back to the U.S. —  as its funding measure. The White House says the repatriation tax would produce nearly a quarter-trillion in revenue and would fund the $317 billion designated for roads and bridges in the next six fiscal years.

Over the life of the bill, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration would get $4.659 billion, starting at $669 million next year and rising to $831 million by the bill’s 2021 fiscal year end date.

Congress has until May 31 to produce legislation to continue highway funding. They passed a stopgap measure last year when faced with the end of the two-year MAP-21 highway funding law.

The White House plan, likely DOA in the Republican-controlled Congress, is one of several longer-term ideas floated in recent months.

With the deadline just two months away, however, Congress may not have enough time to pass a long-term bill and may need to clear another short-term patch to prop up the struggling Highway Trust Fund.