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Commercial Motor Vehicle Operator Requirements Relating to Sleep Disorders

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Ms. NORTON. I thank my good friend, the chairman of the subcommittee, for his work on this very important bill, and I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 3095. This legislation ensures that changes planned by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to better diagnose and treat sleep apnea among commercial truck and bus drivers will be done with a formal rulemaking.

I believe the FMCSA's initiative to address sleep apnea is important, and I fully support the Agency's efforts to improve safety. There is little question that obstructive sleep apnea, if left untreated, can significantly affect a truck or bus driver and his or her on-the-job performance.

When we scheduled markup of this bill in the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, the Agency was considering making significant changes to the medical screening of drivers for sleep apnea through guidance. The rulemaking process, however, will afford FMCSA the opportunity to get input from the public, including drivers and companies who will be directly affected by the changes.

FMCSA has since committed to making changes through a rulemaking. Therefore, this legislation has been overtaken by events and seems to have already had the desired effect. While I am not sure this bill is necessary, I have no objection whatsoever to its content, and I support its adoption.

I reserve the balance of my time.

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Ms. NORTON. Mr. Speaker, I can only hope that the agency--which has a long docket--in fact gets to this rulemaking. It is always, in the best of all possible worlds, best to have rulemaking input from the public, of course the formal effect of rules in the courts of the United States. And I'm not sure why the agency was going to do guidance instead. But this is a very important issue. There have been accidents that have been attributed to sleep apnea. But again, without any guidance, without any rulemaking, without any understanding of how to go about even detecting it and what you're supposed to do to prevent it, we are delayed in preventing these accidents. So I very much appreciate the work of both sides, and certainly of my good friend, the chairman of the subcommittee.

Mr. Speaker, I have no further speakers, and I yield back the balance of my time.

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