Groups to issue report card on cross-border program

| 6/19/2007

Organizations representing U.S. truck drivers, safety advocates and motorists will issue a “report card” and a study detailing how the Bush administration is defying Congress with the U.S. DOT’s attempt to open the border to trucks from Mexico.

The groups plan to unveil the report card and study at a press conference set for Wednesday, June 20, in Washington, DC.

Todd Spencer, executive vice president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, will speak at the press conference.

In February, the Bush administration announced plans to conduct a “pilot program” allowing Mexico-domiciled trucks to travel throughout the United States. Congress quickly passed legislation addressing safety deficiencies in the proposal.

A recent notice in the Federal Register by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration indicates that the agency is “quickly rushing into the program in defiance of Congress and federal laws in its efforts to allow access to all U.S. roadways for large commercial trucks from Mexico,” according to the advocacy groups’ media advisory on the press conference.

A new poll by the Lake Research Partners public opinion research firm examines Americans’ views on allowing trucks from Mexico to travel beyond the current commercial zones extending about 20 to 30 miles along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Section 6901 of the supplemental war funding mandates that the DOT meet safety requirements in federal law before starting the pilot program. The study and “report card” will expose ways that the DOT is dodging these safety requirements, according to the media advisory about Wednesday’s press conference.

Three federal lawmakers are slated to participate in the press conference. They include:

  • Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-ND, member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, and member of Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Subcommittee on Surface Transportation. Dorgan co-sponsored the Mexican truck provisions in the war supplemental bill;
  • Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-OR, chair of House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Highways and Transit; and member of House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Transportation Security and Infrastructure Protection; and
  • Rep. Nancy Boyda, D-KS, sponsor of HR 1773, The Safe American Roads Act, which passed the House on May 15, 2007, by a vote of 411-3.

Others scheduled to address the media are:

  • James Hoffa, general president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters;
  • Joan Claybrook, president of Public Citizen; chairman of the board for Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways;
  • Jackie Gillan, vice president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety; and
  • Joshua Ulibarri, vice president of Lake Research Partners public opinion research.