The “Veteran Improvement Commercial Driver License Act” Would Cut Red Tape for CDL Schools & The Veterans They Serve
WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger today helped introduce a bipartisan bill to cut red tape for veterans looking to use their GI benefits to pay for commercial driver’s license (CDL) education programs.
Right now, if an approved trucking school opens a secondary facility in a new location, existing laws require the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and state regulators to deny the branch’s ability to receive GI benefits for two years.
To shrink this wait time, Spanberger’s Veteran Improvement Commercial Driver License Act would exempt new branches of established commercial driver-training facilities from this statutory waiting period — if the primary training facility has been approved to receive these benefits by the VA and state approving agencies. By clarifying this two-year moratorium statute, the bill would allow veterans more accessibility to nearby CDL schools and lead to high-paying careers in the industry.
“America’s trucking industry is facing a major workforce shortage. Meanwhile, thousands of Veterans have the skills and work ethic to join this sector, make an impact, and help us reduce supply chain challenges across our economy,” said Spanberger. “This bipartisan bill would cut red tape for these Veterans, so that they can more quickly enter the trucking workforce. By making sure GI Benefits apply to these programs, we would make a commonsense fix, reward our Veterans for their service, and prevent them from waiting to hit the road.”
Under this legislation, CDL schools must still comply with state and VA rules regarding curriculum standards to ensure no programs are exploiting veterans or offering fraudulent courses.
The Spanberger-spearheaded bill is endorsed by several nationwide Veteran Service Organizations, labor groups, and trucking industry leaders. These groups include the American Trucking Associations, American Legion, Moving Veterans Forward, Student Veterans of America, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Great Plains Chapter of Paralyzed Veterans of America, Nebraska Military Officers Association of America, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Commercial Vehicle Training Association, Nebraska Trucking Association, and Werner Trucking.
“When the brave men and women in our armed forces return home, the last thing they should have to worry about is red tape preventing them from realizing the American dream that they fought to defend,” said Chris Spear, President & CEO, American Trucking Associations. “Improving veterans’ access to CDL programs will open the door of opportunity to good-paying, in-demand jobs in the trucking industry.”
“This commonsense legislation helps reduce the barriers that veterans face in getting high-quality training for good paying truck driving careers,” said Jerome Redmond, Chairman, Commercial Vehicle Training Association. “Because of their extensive training, exceptional professionalism, and mission-focused approach, veterans are ideal candidates to join the trucking workforce. The relief provided under this bipartisan proposal will give veterans additional choices when seeking out professional truck driving careers.”
The bipartisan bill is led by U.S. Representatives Chuck Edwards (R-NC-11) and Chris Pappas (D-NH-01) — and Spanberger is an original cosponsor alongside U.S. Representative Eli Crane (R-AZ-02). A companion bill is led in the U.S. Senate by U.S. Senators Deb Fischer (R-NE) and Alex Padilla (D-CA).
“In rural areas like Western North Carolina, veterans have to drive for hours to get training for a commercial driver license because closer facilities are forced to wait two years to accept GI Bill benefits. The truck driver shortage is worsening, and obtaining a CDL can provide veterans with good, high-paying jobs when they finish their service,” said Edwards. “H.R. 2830 will cut red tape and expand veterans’ access to timely and quality training. I’m pleased to introduce this commonsense, bipartisan bill with my colleagues, Congressman Pappas, Congressman Crane, and Congresswoman Spanberger to expand opportunities for our veterans.”
“Allowing veterans to use their GI benefits to obtain a commercial driving license without an arbitrary two year wait is a simple, commonsense solution to address the current truck driver shortage,” said Pappas. “This bipartisan legislation will ease the pathway for veterans to acquire a commercial driving license, helping address the trucking shortage, employ veterans, and strengthen our supply chains. I’m pleased to partner with Congressman Edwards on this important bipartisan bill, and I will continue working across the aisle to increase opportunities for veterans and strengthen our supply chains.”
“Expanding the scope of GI education benefits to CDL programs is a way to increase opportunities for those who have put their lives on the line for our country,” said Crane. “Bureaucratic obstacles should never inhibit our nation’s veterans from having flexibility in building prosperous lives for themselves.”
America’s trucking industry is currently facing a shortage of 80,000 drivers — with some estimates showing that number could reach 160,000 by 2030. Trucking shortages have a ripple effect throughout our nation’s supply chains, worsening bottle necks and delaying delivery times. An estimated 8,400 commercial driving programs are approved for use by eligible veterans under the GI bill.
Spanberger has consistently worked to address the trucking workforce shortage in Virginia and across the country — as well as support current drivers. Last month, Spanberger reintroduced her bipartisan bill to establish a refundable income tax credit for qualified commercial truck drivers.