ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Yesterday, the Senate passed the fiscal year 2023 Omnibus Appropriations Act by a bipartisan vote of 68-29. The House is expected to pass the bill today, thus, avoiding a government shutdown. The temporary resolution to continue funding the government at FY 2022 levels was set to expire at midnight tonight.
The $1.7 trillion end-of-year spending package includes the dozen annual spending bills for every federal agency, supplemental aid for natural disaster victims and the war in Ukraine, as well as several unrelated policy provisions, such as retirement savings incentives and requirements to provide employees space in the workplace and time off to pump breast milk.
In addition, language was inserted into the bill relating to several issues important to the convenience retailing industry. These include:
- Gross Vehicle Weight Language: House and Senate appropriators added language in the omnibus to direct the Federal Highway Administration to provide an update to Congress on the implementation of its plan on truck size and weight research. As part of the Shippers Coalition, NACS supports efforts to increase the gross vehicle weight restrictions and supported waivers during the pandemic to help alleviate disruption in the supply chain.
- Under-21 Truck Driver Pilot Program: Language was included in the omnibus to direct the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to provide an update on implementation of the Safe Driver Apprenticeship Program. NACS worked closely with several coalitions on efforts to allow truck drivers between the ages of 18 and 21 who have been certified and trained to drive commercial vehicles across state lines.
- SNAP Skimming Language: There was legislation in the omnibus to address the uptick in skimming of EBT cards and SNAP benefits. The legislation directs the USDA to promulgate a rulemaking that will require states to replace stolen benefits and to track and report fraudulent activity. As part of the rulemaking, it requires measures to be taken to prevent fraud, including equipment enhancements at SNAP retail stores. NACS is meeting with the USDA to ensure that the retail perspective is taken into account as the agency drafts its proposal.
During consideration of the omnibus spending bill, NACS also worked to prevent inclusion of key policy proposals relating to renewable diesel labeling requirements and data privacy. For the second year in a row, a small group tried to include language in the omnibus to remove labeling requirements for renewable diesel. NACS worked with NATSO and SIGMA to successfully stop that effort.
Earlier in the year, NACS, along with NATSO, SIGMA and the American Trucking Association, sent a letter outlining concerns over eliminating fuel pump labeling requirements for renewable diesel. Doing so would prevent businesses in the industry from knowing when they were buying renewable diesel and would prevent the tax advantages of the product from being part of those purchases.
House sponsors of privacy legislation attempted to attach a variety of provisions to the omnibus bill. NACS, working with the Main Street Privacy Coalition that NACS co-founded, successfully stopped language that would have disadvantaged Main Street businesses.