Christian Action Network

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Fight looms over Mexican trucks

(USA Today) Congress is headed for a showdown with President Bush over allowing long-haul Mexican trucks unfettered access to U.S. highways.

The United States promised in the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement to allow trucks from Mexico to carry goods directly to any destination in the country. But opposition from labor and environmental groups kept the program on hold until Monday, when the first Mexican truck crossed the border bound for North Carolina.

Both the House and Senate have passed by overwhelming margins legislation that would kill a Transportation Department trial granting access to up to 100 Mexican trucking companies. (Canadian trucks have enjoyed the run of the country since 1982.) The 75-23 Senate vote, on an amendment to a transportation funding bill by Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., came late Tuesday night. The House passed a similar measure 411-3 in May.

“We don’t have equivalent standards and most especially enforcement of these standards. … To allow long-haul Mexican trucks under these circumstances would cause safety questions on American roads,” Dorgan said in an interview.

Program supporters say safety is a smoke screen for protectionism. In 2006, 23.3% of American trucks flunked U.S. roadside inspections vs. 21.2% of Mexican trucks. “This reeks of protectionism,” says economist Barbara Kotschwar of the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

Likewise, in Texas, which bears the brunt of NAFTA truck traffic, state officials say they’ve seen little difference between the safety records of American and Mexican trucks. “It’s my impression they run about the same,” said Tela Mange, spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Mexican trucks now enter the USA and transfer their cargo to a second truck, which operates only in the border area. The load then moves to an American vehicle that carries it to its final destination. If the program proceeds, one Mexican truck could do the work that now requires three vehicles.

John Hill, head of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, says his agency will inspect every Mexican truck to verify that it meets U.S. safety standards.

Dorgan, who calls NAFTA “a colossal failure,” isn’t convinced. He cites a report by the department’s inspector general, which said Hill’s agency “had not developed sufficient plans for checking every demonstration project truck.”

Hill says those concerns have been resolved. The trial program will continue for the rest of this month, while lawmakers work on merging their respective bills. Bush has threatened a veto.


September 13, 2007 - Posted by | Blogroll, Homeland security, news, personal, politics, random, religion, Terrorism, Terrorism In The U.S., Terrorism News, Uncategorized, War-On-Terror

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