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What Will the FMCSA Prioritize in the Biden Administration?

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) historically has been less prone to large shifts in policy between presidential administrations. Although Presidents Donald Trump and Joe Biden each nominated a Secretary of Transportation from his own party, before that, Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush each nominated a member of the opposing party.  While President Biden has not yet put forward his nominee for Administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the agency’s leadership and policies have historically followed this bipartisan approach. 

For example, when the Trump Administration took control of the FMCSA, the Obama-era rule requiring that driver hours of service be recorded by electronic logging device (ELD), rather than paper logbook, had not yet gone into effect. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) – a group that generally comprises many members of President Trump's base – had fought vigorously against the ELD rule. Despite years of effort to implement the ELD rule, it was uncertain if the FMCSA would postpone, chip away at the rule or even reverse course on ELDs. Nonetheless, the agency held firm and implemented the rule.

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CDC Issues Framework For Conditional Sailing Order For Cruise Ships

The once vibrant U.S. cruise industry has been sharply impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.   On March 14, 2020, in response to the pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) issued a No Sail Order effective for 30 days precluding cruise ship operations arriving or departing from U.S. ports.1  The CDC Director entered the No Sail Order to mitigate the threat of severe illness and death from COVID-19. The No Sail Order was renewed by the CDC on April 9, 2020, July 16, 2020, and September 30, 2020.2  Over the past eleven months, cruise ship operations were brought to a standstill.

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Grappling with Deregulation and Shared Facilities

Last summer, the long-running In re: Rail Freight Fuel Surcharge Antitrust Litigation 1 case took a detour through a rarely cited section of the Staggers Rail Act of 1980 (“Staggers”)2 that excludes certain communications and agreements between competing rail lines from evidence in antitrust cases. In response to the parties’ briefing on the scope of the statute, the Court requested the Department of Justice’s views on the statute. Though the DOJ’s guidance was specifically focused on the statute at issue, the advice it contained is relevant for competitors in any industry that have legitimate reasons in certain contexts to communicate with competitors or agree on prices with competitors, even as they otherwise compete on prices with them in the market. In the Rail Freight Fuel Surcharge litigation, the legitimate communications involve interline pricing between rail carriers shipping freight across multiple rail networks. In other industries, for example, it can involve a vertically-integrated company providing logistical or back-office services to a customer-facing competitor with which they compete for retail customers, or other dual distribution circumstances.

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2019 May - June Highlights: Motor Regulatory

Hours of Service Notice of Proposed Rulemaking May be Released Soon  

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