Comment On Expiration of Vermont’s Interstate Truck Weight Pilot Program

[Thursday night, Senate Republican leaders blocked consideration of the omnibus budget bill that would have extended the Vermont and Maine truck weight pilot programs for another year, after they succeeded in pressuring all Republican senators to walk away from earlier support of the bill.  The bill then was pulled from the Senate Floor, and Congress instead now will need to pass a two-month Continuing Resolution to fund government agencies until February.  Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) authored the legislation that established the current pilot programs, as well as the legislation in the omnibus appropriations bill to extend both programs.  With the Leahy-Collins extension legislation now derailed, the truck weight pilot programs are set to expire at Midnight on Friday.]

“I am deeply disappointed that Republicans leaders have pulled the rug from under this bill.  Their sudden and senseless reversal will hurt the nation’s domestic and national security interests in countless ways.  In the case of the truck weight limits in Vermont and Maine, their action will needlessly disrupt commerce and impose inconvenience on communities throughout New England.

“The budget package included the provisions that I wrote with Senator Collins to extend the truck weight pilot programs in Vermont and Maine.  We faced a supermajority test of 60 votes, but that goal was in reach until Republican leaders Thursday switched positions and pressured all Republican senators to withdraw their support.  This had been a bipartisan budget bill, drafted in collaboration with Republican senators who had input into the spending levels, individual appropriations, and legislative language such as our truck weight language. 

“I have heard from many truckers, Vermont businesses and state and town leaders who support extending the pilot program because of the economic and safety benefits they have seen since the pilot program that I proposed began last December.  Many have reported a significant reduction of heavy truck traffic in our downtowns and villages.  In killing this bill, partisan leaders have opted for political point-scoring that will only sow confusion and inflict avoidable burdens on so many Vermonters and Mainers.  The negative economic impact of heavy trucks running through our downtowns will once again be felt in communities throughout Vermont. 

“The odds now are heavily stacked against solving this in the few days remaining in this session, but I am exploring any and all possibilities as long as there is any hope of extending Vermont’s pilot program.” 


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