What is the Denham Amendment?

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization bill that passed the House last week includes an amendment with serious implications for the trucking industry.

The Denham-Cuellar-Costa Amendment, backed by Reps. Jeff Denham, R-Calif., Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, and Jim Costa, D-Calif., has garnered mixed reaction from the trucking industry. The American Trucking Associations (ATA) believes the amendment will help streamline interstate commerce by federalizing hours-of-service rules, but the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) believes the amendment will rob truck drivers of needed rest breaks and rightful pay.

The amendment was originally part of the FAST Act passed in December, but this amendment didn't make the final cut, which is why it's tacked on to the FAA bill.

To make sense of the debate, Supply Chain Dive broke down how the amendment could impact the industry.

What does the amendment do?
In short, the amendment preempts state laws regarding meal-and-rest breaks, requiring all truck drivers to abide by the Department of Transportation's hours-of-service laws first.

The amendment allows drivers to work longer hours (within federal guidelines) without taking breaks as required by some states (California, for example, requires a 10-minute rest break for every four hours worked and a 30-minute meal break for every five hours worked).
By preempting state laws, the amendment also prevents drivers from being paid for the breaks they take (states like California pay drivers for breaks).
Drivers can still take breaks, but they would lose money by doing so. Under federal law, drivers must take 30-minute breaks every eight hours, which are now enforced by electronic logging devices (ELDs).

Read more about why the industry is fighting over it and why it matters.