Interstate Commerce Commission

The “Interstate Commerce Commission” (ICC) was an agency of the Federal Government that was abolished in1995. Its remaining areas of responsibility were  transferred to the Surface Transportation Board.

History of the ICC

The ICC was established by Interstate Commerce Act of 1887. and was designed to regulate transportation-related commerce such as  interstate bus lines and telephone companies. Its authority was expanded to regulate other forms of commerce in 1906.  The ICC was administered by a commission whose five members were appointed by the President , confirmed by the Senate. The ICC was first independent agency.

Termination of the ICC

The ICC was abolished by the ICC Termination Act of 1995 (Pub. L. 104–88, 109 Stat. 803, Dec. 29, 1995). H.R. 2539 was introduced by Rep. Bud Shuster in the 104th Congress and signed by President William Clinton on December 29, 1995.  The following is from the House Report on the legislation:

On October 26, 1995, H.R. 2539, the ICC Termination Act of 1995, was introduced. The bill substantially deregulates the rail and motor carrier industries and abolishes the 108-year-old Inter- state Commerce Commission effective upon enactment.

There is a long history behind the termination of the Interstate Commerce Commission beginning with the Staggers Act of 1980 and the Motor Carrier Act of 1980, which began the substantial economic deregulation of the surface transportation industry and the whittling away of the size and scope of the ICC. In 1970s the ICC had 11 Commissioners and employed over 2,000 people; today it has 5 Commissioners and less than 400 employees.

The recognition that the surface transportation industry is competitive and that few economic regulatory activities are required to maintain a balanced transportation network has led to calls for the ICC’s elimination. In the 1980s, the Reagan Administration submitted legislation on several occasions to terminate the ICC and transfer remaining activities to other Federal agencies. Congressional action was never taken on these legislative proposals; how- ever, last year the House voted to eliminate all funding for the ICC in the FY 1995 Department of Transportation and Related Agencies Appropriations Act. Fiscal Year 1995 funding was subsequently partially restored in conference, with the understanding that authorizing legislation would be produced to complete termination of the ICC in FY 1996. In April, the Clinton Administration submitted legislation to sunset the ICC effective September 30, 1996, which was introduced by Representatives Lipinski and Mineta by request as H.R. 1436.

[U.S. House of Representatives, Report of the Committee on Transportation And Infrastructure House of Representatives, H. Rept. 104–311, November 6, 1995, p. 82.]

Text of the ICC Termination Act of 1995

House Committee Report (H. Rept. 104-311)

Conference Report (H. Rept. 104-422)

Technical Correction

Section 1108 of title 31 in the U.S. Code refers to the ICC: 

(f) The Interstate Commerce Commission shall submit to Congress copies of budget estimates, requests, and information (including personnel needs), legislative recommendations, prepared testimony for congressional hearings, and comments on legislation at the same time they are sent to the President or the Office of Management and Budget. An officer of an agency may not impose conditions on or impair communication by the Commission with Congress, or a committee or member of Congress, about the information.

31 U.S.C. 1108 sets out the discrepancy in a note as follows: 

Abolition of Interstate Commerce Commission and Transfer of Functions

Interstate Commerce Commission abolished and functions of Commission transferred, except as otherwise provided in Pub. L. 104–88, to Surface Transportation Board effective Jan. 1, 1996, by section 1302 of Title 49, Transportation, and section 101 of Pub. L. 104–88, set out as a note under section 1301 of Title 49. References to Interstate Commerce Commission deemed to refer to Surface Transportation Board, a member or employee of the Board, or Secretary of Transportation, as appropriate, see section 205 of Pub. L. 104–88, set out as a note under section 1301 of Title 49.


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