Bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Senator Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine) to help streamline the process for veterans seeking a Commercial Driver's License (CDL) was signed by President Obama today, after unanimously passing the United States Senate in September. The Military CDL Act (S.3624) eliminates a current-law hurdle that only allows veterans to obtain a license in their home state of record. Since many military personnel retain home states of record that differ from where they are actually stationed, it can be difficult for them to apply training received at their military installation to receiving a CDL they can use to obtain a civilian job following their service -- a problem alleviated by this bill. The legislation is supported by both the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) and the American Trucking Associations (ATA), as well as the American Legion.
Senator Snowe said:
"I am grateful that this commonsense, pro-jobs legislation is now law. As America's veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan face an unemployment rate of 10.9 percent, it is unacceptable that so many veterans have found themselves unable to successfully enter civilian professions for which they have already received world-class training. It is vital they receive our help to overcome the unique challenges and red tape preventing them from using their skills to contribute in the private sector, and this bill continues the efforts I began as part of the highway bill earlier this year to streamline the process of obtaining CDLs for our nation's heroes."
Todd Spencer, Executive Vice President of OOIDA, praised Senator Snowe's legislation, saying, "If there is a way to help returning military personnel use their training as they transition into new roles, then we certainly want to make sure to remove any obstacles to moving forward in a trucking career. Many of our members are veterans and this is a great way to show support for our troops and grow the owner-operator industry at the same time."
BACKGROUND: Senator Snowe's measure was cosponsored by Senators Patty Murray (D-Washington), Chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee; Jay D. Rockefeller (D-West Virginia), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Transportation, and Science; as well as Senators Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Scott Brown (R-Mass.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Jim Inhofe (R-Oklahoma), Johnny Isakson (R-Georgia), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota), Jerry Moran (R-Kansas), and Marco Rubio (R-Florida).
Senators Snowe and Klobuchar previously introduced legislation in February to streamline the process for veterans seeking to obtain a Commercial Driver's License. Specifically, that language, a modified version of which was included as part of the highway bill that passed the Congress in July, required the Secretary of Transportation to convene a joint study with the Secretary of Defense, the states, and other stakeholders, to assess the barriers to obtaining a CDL faced by current service members and veterans with the proper training and driving experience to operate commercial vehicles. Upon completing the study, which is ongoing, the Secretary of Transportation must make recommendations for overcoming those barriers and implement any recommendations for which he has the authority.