BULLETIN: Johnston calls on membership to fight cross-border provision

| 10/31/2007

Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2007 – OOIDA President Jim Johnston says it’s time again for members to fire up the phones and fax machines and contact their elected lawmakers regarding the DOT’s Mexican trucking pilot program.

Earlier this year amendments to cut off funding for the pilot program were included in fiscal year 2008 transportation appropriations bills approved by the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate.

In July, the House unanimously added an amendment, sponsored by Reps. Peter DeFazio, D-OR, Duncan Hunter, R-CA, Nancy Boyda, D-KS, and Gary Miller, R-CA, that seeks to halt the program. Then in September, the Senate passed its version of a similar amendment sponsored by Sens. Byron Dorgan, D-ND, and Arlen Specter, R-PA, on a vote of 75-23.

Since then, Congress has been in a standoff with the White House on not only the transportation appropriations bill, but also all 11 other annual spending bills.

Johnston explained that this stalemate has “kept the House and Senate from moving forward with a conference committee to work out the differences” in the two versions of the transportation bill and from sending a final version to the president.

In an e-mail letter to OOIDA members, Johnston said that after months and months of debate, there’s now a bill about to head to the president that includes provisions that could shut down the cross-border trucking program with Mexico.

“After much anticipation, we are hearing that there may finally be a breakthrough this week,” Johnston told members. “No one is sure yet how the situation will play out, but in some form or fashion the FY2008 transportation appropriations bill should be sent to the president by the end of this week.”

The bill will have to move quickly in the conference committee where it will be hammered into a final version for the president. It’s important the language remain in place that will strip the funding from the cross-border pilot program.

Johnston said Congress is trying to reach a deal with the president so that he will not veto the unfinished appropriations bills.

At the same time, the DOT is working hard to make the cross-border pilot program a bargaining chip in Congress’s negotiations with the White House. Even if they cannot get them removed from the final version of the transportation appropriations bill, the DOT is hoping to get the amendments watered down enough to allow the pilot program to continue to operate.

To prevent that from happening, Johnston is urging all OOIDA members to immediately call or fax their U.S. representative and both of their U.S. senators.

Operators at the U.S. Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 can connect you to the offices of your elected officials. If you are not sure who your representative or senators are, the operators will ask for your ZIP code and put you through to their offices.

You are also welcome to call the OOIDA at 1-800-444-5791, and staffers will look up telephone and fax numbers for you.

“Please know that your Association is working hard on your behalf and please do whatever you can to help,” Johnston wrote to OOIDA members. “There is a light at the end of the tunnel, but we are going to have to keep fighting to get to it.”

Click here to read Johnston’s letter.