Bipartisan Legislation Cosponsored by Senators Shaheen and Hassan to Ease Requirements on Military Members Seeking Commercial Driver’s Licenses Signed Into Law
(Washington, DC) – The bipartisan Jobs for Our Heroes Act of 2017, which Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) cosponsored, was signed into law by the President this week. 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.
“This bipartisan bill eliminates an unnecessary, bureaucratic obstacle so our brave men and women have easier access to the job opportunities they deserve,” said Senator Shaheen. “This legislation cuts through burdensome red tape so active-duty service members and reservists who gained experience operating trucks or buses in the military can more easily secure jobs here at home. I’m glad to see the Jobs for Our Heroes Act signed into law and will continue to prioritize bipartisan efforts on behalf of our military members and their families.”
“Service members, reservists, and veterans have sacrificed bravely in defense of our freedoms, and they deserve to use the skills that they developed during their service to find civilian jobs,” said Senator Hassan. “Active-duty service members and reservists with training and experience in operating large military vehicles should be able to use that experience to qualify for a commercial driver’s license. This bipartisan legislation will make it easier for them to do that. Improving veterans’ access to good-paying civilian jobs is paramount, and working across the aisle to fulfill that goal will continue to be a top priority.”
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.