A proposal has been put forth in the U.S. House of Representatives to encourage individuals to enter the trucking industry and address the shortage of drivers.
The Strengthening Supply Chains Through Truck Driver Incentives Act was introduced by Reps. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) and Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) in response to the challenges faced by the industry during the pandemic.
“During the pandemic, truckers didn’t have any remote options — yet they went to work every single day to keep our economy moving and our communities strong. Our country needs to step up and recognize their hard work — and we need to encourage more Americans to enter this industry,” Spanberger, a member of the Agriculture Committee, said March 30. “Throughout Virginia, I hear about the need to address our chronic truck driver shortage. Our bipartisan bill would help bring more drivers into the fold, keep them on the highway and reward them for their loyalty.”
Gallagher, a member of the Armed Services Committee, added, “The truck driving industry is facing a massive workforce shortage that’s disrupting nearly every aspect of our supply chains. We need to encourage more young men and women to join this career path, and this bipartisan bill is a common-sense way to recruit and retain more drivers to keep our shelves stocked and our economy moving.”
The bill aims to offer tax credits to drivers with a Class A commercial driver's license who have completed a minimum of 1,900 operational hours in a year, and to those registered in a trucking apprenticeship program.
The bill has gained support from stakeholders such as the American Trucking Associations, which has reported a shortage of about 78,000 drivers in the industry.
“Reducing the nationwide shortage of qualified truck drivers will require investment in developing the next generation of trucking talent. Even as driver pay continues to rise at a historic clip, the Strengthening Supply Chains Through Truck Driver Incentives Act will provide even more incentive for those considering a career in trucking but by providing substantial tax credits to reduce their federal tax liabilities,” ATA President Chris Spear said in a statement accompanying the measure’s introduction.
“The bill also would provide relief for Americans currently driving trucks, helping the industry retain these essential workers. This bipartisan legislation will make a meaningful difference in the lives of new truckers, helping them move into one of the few professions in today’s economy that can provide a middle-class lifestyle without the time and expense of a four-year college degree,” Spear added.
Dale Bennett, CEO of the Virginia Trucking Association, said, “The pandemic and supply chain issues have shown us the importance of having an adequate supply of qualified truck drivers. The trucking industry currently has a shortage of nearly 80,000 drivers, and the Strengthening Supply Chains Through Truck Driver Incentives Act provides a short-term, fast and straightforward incentive to retain and attract new and former drivers.”
The legislation was reported to a committee of jurisdiction for consideration.