Woodall Introduces Bill to Cut DOT Red Tape, Help Veterans Return to Work

Date: Oct. 13, 2015
Location: Washington, DC

On Friday, U.S. Representative Rob Woodall (GA 07) introduced H.R. 3739, the "Veterans' Expanded Trucking (VET) Opportunities," or "VETOPPS Act" to eliminate an unnecessary regulatory barrier that has hindered U.S. military veterans in their efforts to resume work -- specifically, in the trucking industry. Joining Woodall as the lead co-sponsor of the bipartisan measure was Rep. Tim Walz (MN 01) and 10 original co-sponsors including fellow Georgia Representatives Lynn Westmoreland (GA 03) and David Scott (GA 13). Following introduction, the bill has been referred to the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, where 9 of its original co-sponsors currently serve.

Under Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations that went into force in 2014, medical exams for a commercial driver's license (CDL) must be conducted by medical professionals who have completed the federal certification process required in order to be listed on the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners (NRCME). Unfortunately, only a fraction of otherwise qualified medical professionals have completed the costly, time-consuming federal certification process, which has raised costs and reduced access for veterans, particularly those in low-income or rural areas. The "VETOPPS Act" addresses the issue by allowing VA physicians in good standing with the agency to conduct the exam for qualified veterans in accordance with NRCME standards; thereby preserving its integrity, the doctor-patient relationship, and expediting their return to work.

"With so many of our veterans ready and eager to get back to work or transition into the civilian workforce, the last thing the federal government should be doing is making it more difficult for them to do so," said Rep. Woodall. "Forcing a veteran off the rolls of the VA doctor who knows them best simply because the doctor has not completed a separate, costly federal approval process does not make sense, nor does it promote public safety. Preventing fraud on medical exams is an important goal, and we can do so without adding new federal roadblocks to employment for the men and women in uniform who have served our nation honorably. This commonsense bill takes simple, corrective action on their behalf and preserves the tough penalties levied on those who abuse the system."

"This bipartisan legislation just makes sense," Rep. Walz said. "We need to make it easier for veterans looking to return to work and this bill will cut through the red tape, while still ensuring the safety of drivers and the public. I thank Rep. Woodall for his work on this important issue."

"Regulatory red tape imposed by the federal government has made it difficult for many jobs, including trucking, to be filled by our veterans," stated Rep. Westmoreland. "I'm proud to cosponsor the Veterans' Expanded Trucking Opportunities Act which would ensure our nation's bravest don't have to jump through unnecessary hoops to get a job. By allowing VA doctors to sign off on a veteran's medical exam to fulfill Department of Transportation requirements, we can cut back on cost, and most importantly -- we can streamline the approval process so our veterans can get back to work quickly."

In addition to the bipartisan support on Capitol Hill, H.R. 3739 has also garnered the support of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) for its efforts. Woodall went on to describe the bill as solutions-oriented policy that is building consensus in Washington, and earning the support of the American people regardless of political affiliation.

"With this bill we have a wonderful opportunity to work together across party lines to make a real difference in the day-to-day lives of our veterans," added Woodall. "Helping America's veterans succeed once they return home is a goal that should transcend politics, and I'm grateful to Representative Walz and each of my colleagues who have partnered with me on this legislation."

Congressman Woodall represents the Seventh Congressional District of Georgia, which includes the majority of Forsyth and Gwinnett counties, and currently serves as Chairman of the Rules Subcommittee on Legislative and Budget Process, as well as serving on the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, and Budget Committee.