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9/10/2007
SPECIAL REPORT: Cross-border program funding in jeopardy in Senate
By Jami Jones, senior editor

Monday, Sept. 10, 2007 – In a one-two punch directed at the cross-border trucking program with Mexico, the Senate will soon consider an amendment seeking to cut off funding to the program.

The U.S. House of Representatives approved an amendment as part of its 2008 transportation appropriations legislation that calls to stop funding of the cross-border program.

U.S. Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-ND, offered an amendment Monday to stop the Bush Administration’s pilot program that now allows Mexican trucks to haul freight throughout the United States. The amendment was co-sponsored by Sen. Arlen Specter, R-PA.

Dorgan offered the amendment to the Senate’s FY 2008 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bill. It seeks to cut off funds for implementing the program, according to a press release issued by Dorgan.

Specifically, the amendment stipulates: “None of the funds made available under this act may be used to establish a cross-border motor carrier demonstration program to allow Mexico domiciled motor carriers to operate beyond the commercial zones along the international border between the United States and Mexico.”

Dorgan obviously is taking exception to how the program was launched.

“The Bush Administration rushed to implement the pilot program late last week – literally in the dark of night. It was launched just one hour after a required Transportation Department Inspector General’s report was issued,” Dorgan’s press release stated.

That report identified numerous problems with allowing the program to go forward.

“They didn't even wait for the ink to dry, much less read the report or consider the questions it raised,” Dorgan said.

He described the administration’s hurried action as “arrogant” and said that it “puts Americans at risk” because Mexican enforcement of truck and driver standards are “much less rigorous” than in the United States.

A crash of a Mexican truck earlier today in northern Mexico made the point that the need is for caution, not speed, in allowing Mexican trucks to travel throughout the United States, Dorgan said. A truck loaded with 25 tons of explosives collided with another vehicle according to The Associated Press. The ensuing explosion left at least 37 dead and a 65-foot crater in the road.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association issued a national Call to Action urging members to contact their senators in support of the Dorgan-Specter amendment.

Call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and give them your home ZIP code to be connected with the senators from your state.

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