Hundreds of trucks sit empty in California this week, exacerbating a supply chain crisis already driving the cost of food and goods for all Americans to new heights. California truck drivers took to the streets to protest the state’s new regulation that will destroy their small businesses and effectively draft them into union membership against their will.
As the pandemic forced us to stay indoors and isolated, unprecedented emphasis was placed on transportation keeping the core systems of our entire supply chain and economy operational and efficient, ensuring freight and key essential workers can continue to move. In a post-pandemic America, we must reevaluate and strategically support our transportation and infrastructure systems and the critical role they play in our lives, our safety and our entire economy.
Since their creation, we have been reliant on the four million miles of U.S. public roads, 19,700 civil airports, and over 138,000 miles of freight rail. Over time, we realized the vulnerability of our current transportation and logistics systems. As we placed more weight on these systems, they were further tested through the supply chain crisis and labor shortages, making America’s formerly prized infrastructure less timely and efficient.
In California, disastrous legislation like Assembly Bill 5 stopped 70,000 truck drivers from doing their jobs and owning their businesses. Despite being a total failure at the state level, Democrats in Congress are pushing the PRO Act which, if enacted, would cause the same fate for 350,000 truck drivers across the nation.
Rather than working to stop drivers, make infrastructure more complicated and add burdensome regulation, Democrats in Congress should look for bipartisan pragmatic solutions. Legislation such as the DRIVE Safe Act would alleviate the biggest regulatory barrier preventing the trucking industry from recruiting the next generation of truck drivers.
In North Texas, like most of the country, there is a labor shortage in the transportation industry, with over 12,000 jobs unfilled. I spoke to business owners who can’t get shipments, as well as transportation companies desperate to hire. The effect these shortages have on our local economy is devastating and getting worse. I saw the struggle of the transportation and logistics industry across my district and as a result will bring local industry stakeholders and officials together this summer to address the truck driver shortage and other challenges our communities are facing.
I will continue to work with transportation leaders across North Texas to be a leading voice on transportation issues and on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in Congress. As we move forward in the next Congress, we must work to refocus our priorities on removing the burdensome regulations that continue to plague this industry.
• U.S. Representative Beth Van Duyne, Texas Republican, represents the state’s 24th Congressional District and is a member of the Transportation & Infrastructure and Small Business Committees. Prior to her election to Congress, she served as Regional Administrator for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Mayor of Irving, Irving City Council Member, and a consultant to startups, mid-size private companies, and Fortune 500 corporations. As a Board Member for the Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) International Airport, she oversaw operations at one of our country’s busiest airports, ensuring safe and efficient travel for millions of Americans flying through DFW each year.