Trucker group slams Congressional COVID relief bill

Updated Dec 28, 2020

A major trucking organization has expressed its displeasure with Congress over a proposed COVID-19 coronavirus relief bill, saying it does nothing for truckers or the trucking industry.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association penned a letter to Congress Wednesday, Dec. 23 condemning legislators over the lack of aid for trucking in the recently-passed COVID relief bill. (The bill has yet to be signed by the President, amid administration/Congressional back-and-forth over the size of direct payments to most Americans.)

“We’ve heard them praising truckers all year as essential heroes during the pandemic,” said Lewie Pugh, OOIDA executive vice president. “And now here we are with a spending package that benefits nearly every other sector of transportation except those that have been keeping goods moving this whole time.”

The letter describes how transit, motor coaches, airlines and others are getting billions of dollars in aid, while small-business truckers were seemingly left out.

“This is shameful,” Pugh added. “Some of these industries already received tens of billions of dollars earlier this year.”

The letter clarifies that truckers aren’t looking for a handout. However, OOIDA said Congress “could have suspended the federal fuel tax, or the heavy-vehicle use tax, or even the Unified Carrier Registration tax to help truckers’ cash flow.”

“Or you could have tossed in a few hundred million dollars for truck parking projects, so more truckers would have a safe place to park while they work long hours. These are just a few of the ideas that we have conveyed to Congress to provide relief to small-business truckers.”

However, the future of the legislation came into question when President Donald Trump called it “a disgrace” for not having enough financial support for individuals and families. He wants individuals to receive $2,000 checks instead of the $600 included in the bill. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said the House will return to Washington Monday to vote on including Trump’s suggested $2,000 checks in the bill, something Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said won’t happen.