FMCSA candidate touts IIJA workforce programs in Senate hearing

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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden’s nominee to oversee national trucking regulations highlighted the administration’s efforts to increase the industry’s workforce during her June 8 confirmation hearing.

Robin Hutcheson, nominated for the executive position at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, said the recently enacted $1 trillion infrastructure act paved the way for opportunities to bolster a workforce deemed essential during the pandemic. She appeared before the Senate Commerce Committee, a group with expertise in trucking rules and regulations.

“The work of FMCSA and the industry is supported by the historic passage of the bipartisan Infrastructure Act,” Hutcheson told senators.

I have participated and will continue to participate in discussions, meetups and other forums to deepen my understanding of the needs of drivers and all of our critical stakeholders.

Robin Hutcheson, candidate for administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

“The bipartisan Infrastructure Act also dedicates resources to helping the truck driving profession by creating a better and safer pipeline of drivers and improving recruitment and retention in the profession,” she said. added. “I have and will continue to participate in discussions, meetings and other forums to deepen my understanding of the needs of drivers and all of our critical stakeholders.” Administration officials sometimes refer to the $1 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act.

The candidate assured the committee that her team is focused on implementing trucking labor provisions included in the law, including an apprenticeship to enable commercial drivers under 21 to drive trucks via the highway, and an advisory board dedicated to recruitment and retention efforts targeting women.

I believe his leadership experience leading public sector transport agencies will provide essential leadership.

Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.)

Committee chair Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) touted the nominee’s track record in transportation safety. She cited the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s recent estimate of a 10.5% increase in traffic fatalities from 2020.

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“Strong federal leadership is needed as the country faces a tragic increase in road fatalities, including a dramatic increase in fatal accidents involving large trucks,” Cantwell said. “I believe his leadership experience leading public sector transport agencies will provide essential leadership and the skills needed to address these issues.” The senator told Transport Topics that she plans to schedule a committee vote on the nominee this summer.

Hutcheson is an interim director at FMCSA. Previously, she was Deputy Assistant Secretary for Security Policy at the US Department of Transportation. His background includes stints at agencies in Minneapolis and Salt Lake City. She has also served on the board of the National Association of City Transportation Officials.

The American Trucking Associations recently determined that the industry is short of approximately 80,000 commercial drivers.

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