January 02, 2018

Bipartisan Legislation Cosponsored by Senators Shaheen and Hassan to Ease Requirements on Military Members Seeking Commercial Driver’s Licenses Heads to President’s Desk

WASHINGTON – The bipartisan Jobs for our Heroes Act of 2017, which Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) cosponsored, went to the President’s desk for his signature after passing both the House of Representatives and Senate unanimously. The legislation, introduced by Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), streamlines and eases the burden on the process whereby active-duty military, reservists, and veterans apply for their commercial driver’s license.

“Our servicemen and women shouldn’t face onerous obstacles when they come home,” said Senator Shaheen. “This bipartisan legislation will remove the legal challenges that active, duty service members, reservists and veterans face when they apply for a commercial driver’s license. This is a common-sense fix and will help ensure that members of the Armed Services who have the training and experience to operate heavy trucks and buses can more easily land good-paying jobs.”

“Servicemen and women develop exceptional skills during the course of their training and service, and we need to make it easier to use those skills to reenter the civilian workforce,” Senator Hassan said. “Far too often, service members, reservists, and veterans with training and experience in operating large military vehicles face unnecessary obstacles in qualifying for a commercial driver’s license. This bipartisan bill takes common-sense steps to remove these barriers and expedite the licensing process for our brave veterans so they have access to good civilian jobs, and I look forward to seeing this legislation signed into law.”

Background:

The latest surface transportation reauthorization bill, the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, directed the Secretary of Transportation to establish a unique, streamlined set of standards for veterans applying for a CDL. The standards exempt veterans from all or a portion of civilian commercial vehicle driving tests if that veteran had experience driving similar vehicles while in the armed forces or reserves.

However, the FAST Act did not include active-duty members of the military and reservists in their application of standards for veterans with previous training in military driving. To correct this, the Department of Transportation (USDOT) granted a two-year exemption allowing states to waive the commercial driver’s licenses knowledge test for current service members, reservists, and national guardsmen if they completed military heavy-training programs and had been regularly employed in a military position requiring the operation of heavy vehicles within the past year prior to their application.

The Jobs for our Heroes Act of 2017 makes the USDOT’s two-year exemption permanent, providing active-duty service members and reservists the same training and testing standards granted to veterans under the FAST Act. The legislation also makes it easier for veterans to receive the DOT-required health examination to hold a commercial driver’s license.

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