The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved two measures on May 24 to further ease the transition of military personnel seeking commercial driver's licenses.
Both are expansions of measures initially included in the 2015 FAST Act.
Introduced by Rep. Rob Woodall (R-GA), HR 2547 will make more medical professionals at medical facilities operated by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) eligible to conduct physicals for truck drivers.
The language in the FAST Act allowed only certified physicians to conduct the required medical checks on truckers. With only 25 of these certified physicians in the VA, new language was needed to allow nurse practitioners and other medical professionals to conduct them “as long as they are authorized by the state where they are registered,” said Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO).
Woodall said he had only become aware of the problem after nurses came to his office to alert him.
Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) said it was the panel’s intention all along to help the ease certification process, and the new legislation is “common sense” to rectify an unintended problem.
“We don’t want to create a backlog at the VA just because we did not foresee there would be enough professionals able to perform these examinations,” said Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC).
The second bill, HR 2258, serves a similar purpose.
Included in the FAST Act was a measure allowing military veterans with qualifying experience to receive a waiver from certain testing steps when seeking a civilian CDL. The fresh legislation clarifies that active members of the military and reserves are also eligible.
These are people who “could benefit from part or full-time jobs truck driving,” DeFazio said.
The FAST Act allowed military personnel a time extension for seeking a skills test waiver and permitted active members to be rested in the state where they are stationed. It provided funding grants to CDL schools that train veterans and allowed certain personnel between 18-21 to operate a truck in interstate commerce.
During the meeting, the committee passed authorizations for the Coast Guard, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Federal Maritime Commission.
“I am also pleased that the committee approved several measures to make it easier for qualified veterans and military personnel to get their commercial motor vehicle licenses, which will help open doors to employment for members of our armed services reentering civilian life,” said Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA).