Across America, COVID-19 continues to take lives and destroy livelihoods. That is why it is so critical Congress delivers on a new round of recovery and relief legislation.

The trucking industry has been on the frontlines of this fight from day one. Our trucks are on the road so that first responders remain equipped, hospitals remain supplied and grocery stores remain stocked throughout the pandemic. We are America’s cavalry.

But the trucking industry provides more than lifesaving goods. It provides livelihoods. More than 87,000 Louisianans work in trucking and the state is home to 5,800 trucking companies — mostly small and family-owned businesses.

As a result of government-ordered closures, truck manufacturing plants and dealers have either suspended or scaled back operations, and truck sales in the U.S. are predicted to decline by 50% this year.

As Congress debates another COVID-19 aid package, we are asking Louisiana’s delegation in Congress to help us keep rolling. A temporary suspension the 12% Federal Excise Tax (FET) until the end of 2021 on new trucks would ensure goods keep moving, American jobs are saved, and our economy keeps churning.

This costly tax tacks on an average extra $22,000 to the cost of a new Class 8 rig, and disincentivizes fleets for upgrading their equipment. The unintended consequence is older, less safe, and dirtier trucks on our roads.

By suspending the FET through 2021, Congress would accomplish several things. First, it would provide a major shot in the arm for our economy and protect the 1.3 million American workers tied to truck and trailer manufacturing.

Suspending the FET would put our industry in a purchasing mode again: A recent survey by the American Trucking Associations showed 60% of fleets would be likely or very likely to purchase new trucks should the FET be suspended. This would support jobs up and down the supply chain, including the 3,450 Louisianans who work at truck dealerships.

Suspending the FET through 2021 would empower our fleets to make necessary upgrades while allowing time for manufacturers to keep the assembly lines moving.

As Gov. John Bel Edwards said, “We are in this together for the long haul.” Truckers are ready for the long haul. We are calling on our representatives in Congress to help us get there.

RANDY GUILLOT

chairman, American Trucking Associations

Jefferson

JODIE TEUTON

immediate past chairwoman, American Truck Dealers

Gray