New CDL program branches could access GI benefits sooner under Fischer’s bill

With America’s trucking industry currently facing a shortage of 80,000 drivers, an amount that some estimates show could double by 2030, U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE) on March 6 sponsored a bill that would allow more United States military veterans to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL) using their GI benefits.

“Frustrating red tape is inhibiting some veterans from pursuing a career in trucking, which is vital to our modern economy,” Sen. Fischer said. “I’m proud to reintroduce legislation with Sen. Padilla that will reverse unnecessary regulations and allow more veterans to take advantage of their well-earned GI benefits.”

Sen. Fischer introduced the Veteran Improvement Commercial Driver License Act of 2023, S. 656, with original cosponsor U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla (D-CA) to ensure veterans’ GI benefits may be used at new branches of CDL program schools that have already received regulatory approval, according to a bill summary provided by Sen. Fischer’s office.

Currently, 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 require that the branch wait two years before receiving GI benefits, the summary says, adding that approximately 8,400 CDL programs are estimated to be approved for use by eligible veterans under the GI bill.

If enacted, S. 656 would eliminate the two-year wait if new CDL program branches have been approved by the VA and State Approving Agencies to receive GI benefits, states the summary.

“This bill will expand veterans’ GI benefits, career training, and educational opportunities to help them get quality, good-paying jobs,” said Sen. Padilla. “Paving the way for more veterans to obtain their commercial driver’s licenses will also address a critical workforce shortage and keep goods moving along our nation’s supply chain.”

The measure has received endorsements from the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the American Trucking Associations, and many others.