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Motor Carrier Act of 1980 Remarks on Signing S. 2245 Into Law

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Trucking

Motor Carrier Act of 1980 Remarks on Signing S. 2245 Into Law

President Jimmy Carter
July 1, 1980

THE PRESIDENT. These are my heroes back here, and I'm very grateful for what they've done for the country.

Yesterday we signed on the South Lawn an historic piece of legislation that will literally transform the lives of the American public in the years ahead. The Energy Security Corporation was established, an ability to finance the change from overdependence on foreign oil to a much more heavy dependence on conservation, first of all, and the production of energy from American sources. There's not a family whose lives will not be changed beneficially by that legislation. It was difficult, but it was necessary.

Today we continue on a major effort, in addition to that, which will benefit American lives, help to control inflation, and give us an opportunity to use the free enterprise system of our country in its most effective form.

We've had notable success with this Congress during the last 3 1/2 years in getting the Federal Government's nose out of the private lives of American people and the private enterprise system. Deregulation and the reduction in paperwork has been a major commitment of us all.

The deregulation of the airline industry, according to the CAB's own figures, has already saved the American citizens more than $5 billion. It's made the airline industry more competitive, more profitable, and more efficient. Earlier this year, we signed the deregulation bill for the financial institutions of our country, again to enhance competition and to give Americans a better life. We have also cut paperwork already by 15 percent, caused by the Federal Government, and that effort is continuing.

We are now approaching the final decision on rail deregulation, which will remove unnecessary Government restraint on competition in the rail industry and let that industry benefit from the system of competition on which our Nation was founded and on which it rests its economic freedom.

A year ago, at the White House, I proposed broad changes in the regulations that deal with the trucking industry. People then said that it was impossible to pass a trucking deregulation bill because of the powerful political forces involved and the controversial nature of this kind of legislation. That I'm signing this bill into law today, almost exactly 1 year later, is a tremendous credit to all those who've worked so closely with me in devising and in passing this legislation.

Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Howard Cannon has done yeoman work in preparing a basis for a better understanding not only of the consumers and the shippers of our country but also the trucking industry itself and the American public. Senator Bob Packwood worked very closely with him. And it's particularly gratifying to me to welcome Senator Kennedy to the Rose Garden today, because he's done such a tremendous job, too, in helping the whole Nation understand the advantages to be derived from this trucking deregulation bill.

I think it's important that consumers are being protected well, and at the same time, the trucking industry, who have been involved in the process in a very constructive way, will also be benefited in the future.

We have, on the House side, Bizz Johnson and Jim Howard, subcommittee chairman—Bizz Johnson is the committee chairman—who have met with me several times in the Oval Office as progress was being made, sometimes in times of discouragement and despair, sometimes in an attitude of hopefulness and determination. Congressmen Bill Harsha, Bud Shuster, and others have done a very fine job in representing both consumers, businesses of all kinds, farmers, and the truckers themselves.

This is historic legislation. There is no other nation on Earth that depends so heavily upon motor transportation for its economic life's blood. We are a nation addicted to broad spaces, which we love, and the necessity in a vital economy to transport goods and equipment and services rapidly and efficiently.

In the past—for the past 45 years, as a matter of fact—this freedom of the use of the highways has been constrained by excessive Government restriction. The Motor Carrier Act of 1980 will eliminate the redtape and the senseless overregulation that have hampered the free growth and the development of the American trucking industry. It will be highly anti-inflationary in effect, reducing consumer costs by as much as $8 billion a year, by ending wasteful practices and enhancing the essence of competition. It will save literally hundreds of millions of gallons of gasoline every year, because wasteful trucking practices will no longer be required by Federal law and Federal regulation.

The heart of this legislation is more efficiency. No longer will trucks have to travel empty because of rules that absurdly limit the kind of goods they can carry. No longer will trucks be forced literally hundreds of miles out of the direct route for no logical reason at all or prohibited pointlessly from stopping at points on their routes to pick up and deliver goods as is necessary to serve their customers.

This act will bring the trucking industry into the free market system where it belongs. It will encourage new truckers and expansion of existing firms. It will also ensure the dealing fairly with trucking firms owned by minorities and by women. And consumers, of course, will benefit from lower prices. Labor will benefit, because we'll have new jobs. And finally, the trucking industry itself, a strong, vital, profitable, well-organized industry, will benefit, because it will have greater flexibility and more opportunity for innovation.

Well, this act is important in its own right. It's important for the American people, and it's a great tribute in its effectiveness and its incisiveness to the men standing behind me this morning. Again, on behalf of the people of our country, I want to express my deep appreciation and admiration to the Members of Congress who have acted so courageously and so effectively in passing this legislation.

And now, it's with a great deal of pleasure that I sign into law the Motor Carriers Act of 1980. Thank you very much. [At this point, the President signed the bill.]

I'd like to ask Senator Howard Cannon to come say just a word, if he will.

SENATOR CANNON. Thank you very much, Mr. President.

This legislation demonstrates that we can effectively reduce Government regulation and that the two major political parties can work together effectively to solve problems of major significance. I'm very proud that this bill originated in and received the strong support of the Senate. During that process, there were many people who were vital in assuring passage of such a strong bill. I can't possibly imagine how it could have been done without Bob Packwood's leadership among the Republicans. I've rarely seen a more effective individual effort. Among the other members of the committee, two in particular deserve special attention: Adlai Stevenson and Jack Schmitt. And of course, the House public works committee, under the leadership of Bizz Johnson and Jim Howard, should be commended for their efforts.

Above all, however, I want to recognize Ted Kennedy for his initial efforts on this issue and the consistent work he did on the trucking legislation over the past 3 years. This bill demonstrates how effective the Senator can be in developing a controversial issue and working with his colleagues in the Congress in implementing comprehensive and effective legislation. I look forward to our two committees continuing this partnership on legislation of mutual interest.

Of course, the issue depended on more than the strong support of a few Members of Congress. In great part this victory belongs to a unique coalition of consumers, shippers, industries, and public interest groups that worked hard to promote and achieve this legislation. And while they covered the entire political and economic spectrum, they all shared the belief that less regulation and more competition are essential to the future development of a sound transportation system in this country.

And finally Mr. President, I want to say that this bill demonstrates how effective this administration and you personally can be in supporting and promoting controversial legislation throughout the legislative process. In the days shortly before Senate consideration of the bill, Secretary Neil Goldschmidt, Stu Eizenstat, Fred Kahn, and their staffs spent so much time working the hallways in the Senate Office Buildings, working on the issue, that on one or two occasions they even had to eat in the Senate cafeteria, which is just about the strongest test of dedication that I'm aware of. [Laughter]

Thank you very much, Mr. President, and thanks again for your great help.

THE PRESIDENT. I'd like to ask Chairman Bizz Johnson to say a word, if he will. Mr. Chairman.

REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON. Thank you, Mr. President.

This has been a long, long period of time in putting this bill together. When we first started out over a year ago, I doubted whether we'd ever get a bill to you. When the date was set of June 1, we didn't quite make it. But we worked very hard with all of your people, the Senate, our committee. Jim Howard, Bud Shuster, Bill Harsha did a lot of yeoman's work in putting this bill together. I want to commend Jim Howard, Bud Shuster, Bill Harsha here today.

We met with all segments of the trucking industry. We met with all segments of the consumer groups. And we finally brought it down to where we had a hardworking coalition of our staff, the White House, the trucking industry, the consumer groups, shippers. The last, I would say, was labor coming into the picture. We worked out our problems.

I just hope we have a good bill, the bill will do what we think it will do: benefit the consumer, the industry, which is a very, very large segment of our private enterprise. The trucking industry includes a good many people throughout the United States, and to get all of those people to say, "Yes, we support the bill"-Mr. President, you are to be commended.

THE PRESIDENT. Thank you very much.

Although the coalition which was finally successful in passing the bill was really organized effectively about a year ago, as Howard Cannon has pointed out, there was one Senator who worked on this legislation for at least 2 years or more prior to that, sometimes alone, sometimes facing discouragement, but never giving up on the concept. I'd like to ask Senator Kennedy to say a word if he will.

SENATOR KENNEDY. Well, there's no debate on trucking deregulation. [Laughter]

I want to commend the President and the administration for the very special effort that they have made in achieving this moment here today and to also single out those that have been previously recognized: the leader in the United States Senate, Howard Cannon, who has worked so hard with this administration and previous administrations on the truck deregulation and also in airline deregulation, and Bizz Johnson, Glenn Anderson, and to Jim Howard, who worked so hard, as well, on the whole area of truck deregulation.

The number one concern of the American people is the state of our economy. I don't believe that there'll be a piece of legislation that'll be passed during this Congress that will have a greater impact in dampening the fires of inflation as the truck deregulation legislation. As we have seen from the Congressional Budget Office, the savings to consumers and the dampening effect that this legislation will have on inflation will be even greater than the budget cuts which have been proposed in the Congress and Senate of the United States.

It will offer new opportunities for competition. It'll get the heavy hand of the Federal Government out of the area of the private sector. It'll mean new opportunities, new jobs. And I believe that there are other areas in which we can work, work closely together, to dampen inflation and also see the restoration of the vitality of the American economy.

Also, when we talk about deregulation, I think Mr. President would agree that we have Fred Kahn here, who is one of those in the very early days, when we first started the hearings some 6 years ago in the Senate Judiciary Committee, who came down and made one of the very eloquent statements and comments about how the economy could be served and how the consumer could be served and American industry served. And he has been one of the really great figures, I think, in both this administration and in our country, in trying to ensure that the forces of competition and the reinvigoration of our American industry will be well served. And it's nice to see you here today.

Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. It would be good to call on everyone here, but I would particularly like to call on Jim Howard, who in times of great duress stood courageously and, with a great political sensitivity, was able to bring together disparate groups, who had widely ranging attitudes toward this legislation, successfully. Jim, would you come and say just a word?

REPRESENTATIVE HOWARD. Thank you very much.

As you know, this was not an easy task. And 1 year ago, to think that we might be able to get the consumers, the shippers, the Teamsters, the marketers, everyone together on a piece of legislation for the national good looked almost impossible. But the big thing about it is that everyone cooperated. Everyone gave a little bit in order to get a good overall bill.

Besides the people mentioned here thus far, we couldn't be where we are today without the tremendous help that we got on both sides of the Capitol from the valuable staff members that we have, who kept negotiations going, who talked when we weren't available. And although there are too many of them to mention, they're symbolized by the head of the House negotiating staff team, Jack Friar. And I think that we owe an awful lot to our staffs.

I'm very, very grateful to all the groups who gave so much to get such a good bill. And, Mr. President, I'm mostly grateful that it's all behind us now. [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. In closing, let me say that you have participated in a momentous occasion for our country. I'm very grateful that you were here. This legislation will have a great beneficial impact on those that you care about and those that you help to lead. Thank you very much for being here.

And again, thanks to all the Members of Congress who were successful in passing this controversial, crucial, important, fine legislation. Thanks again.

Note: The President spoke at 9:31 a.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House.

As enacted, S. 2245 is Public Law 96-296, approved July 1.

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