Priorities that ATA secured in the final agreement include base access standardization and international bridge permitting reform
Washington – Today, the American Trucking Associations welcomed the release of the National Defense Authorization Act Conference Report, which includes language for which ATA strongly advocated to 1) improve access to military bases and 2) strengthen cross-border trade. The legislation must now be passed by the House and Senate before heading to the president’s desk to be signed into law.
“These wins for trucking are particularly noteworthy during a Congress that hasn’t found agreement often,” said Bill Sullivan, ATA’s chief advocacy and public affairs officer. “It proves that we still can push good policies forward and succeed.”
Getting through the gates at U.S. military bases is a challenge for truck drivers and motor carriers, including those that regularly move servicemembers, deliver personal packages or transport arms and ammunition. ATA’s Moving and Storage Conference, the Government Freight Conference and their respective members worked with Congressmen John Garamendi (D-California) and Mark Alford (R-Missouri) to secure language in the NDAA intended to improve the base access process while maintaining robust security standards.
“Base access is a challenge for carriers, whether you’re hauling arms and ammunition or household goods,” said Mike Matousek, director of the ATA Government Freight Conference. “Part of the solution is a workable fitness standard that is consistent across the Services, a requirement for DoD to move the ball forward and a way to hold the agency accountable for inaction. This is what the Conference Report accomplishes.”
“More than 300,000 military families relocate each year, so efficient and consistent access to military bases for movers and crew members is essential to meeting their needs while also supporting military readiness,” said Ryan Bowley, executive director of the ATA Moving and Storage Conference. “We applaud Congress for including this important provision, and as DoD works on implementation, we urge engagement with movers and other industries who provide important support to our national security.”
The Conference Report:
• Requires DoD to update its fitness standard in the base access manual;
• Sets certain deadlines for DoD to meet; and
• Requires DoD to brief Congress along the way.
International Bridge Permitting
Following a request made by an ATA and Texas Trucking Association-led coalition, the Conference Report retained a provision that aims to expedite permitting to build or expand cross-border bridges between Texas and Mexico. In 2022, trade between the U.S. and Mexico totaled nearly $780 billion, and this figure is expected to increase as companies move their businesses and supply chains back to North America. Accelerating improvements for these vital trade corridors is essential to accommodating the growth in trade along the southern border, creating American jobs and reducing dependence on China.
“Trade between the U.S. and Mexico supports millions of American jobs, but delays in building new bridges and expanding existing ones create bottlenecks that impede economic growth,” said Jon Samson, ATA’s vice president of conferences. “We strongly advocated for this provision to cut through permitting red tape and speed up cross-border transportation projects, which will help prevent truck drivers from being stuck in traffic, encourage businesses to relocate to North America and catalyze manufacturing on both sides of the border.”
The agreement will expedite the presidential permitting process for these bridges without compromising environmental reviews. Specifically, this section of the NDAA would set up a 60-day timeline for the State Department to make a recommendation to the president on an application and give the president an additional 60 days to then approve or deny a permit. A permit could be conditioned on a project receiving a National Environmental Policy Act permit.