SPECIAL REPORT: Cross-border program continues despite funding cut

| 12/27/2007

Thursday, Dec. 27, 2007 – Despite a provision signed into law Wednesday that’s designed to block Mexican motor carriers from having open access to U.S. highways, FMCSA isn’t ending its cross-border program.

The $555 billion omnibus spending bill, which President George W. Bush signed into law on Wednesday aboard Air Force One, contained a provision that cuts funding from the cross-border program.

The provisions states: “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.”

Officials with the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association learned shortly after the measure was signed into law that FMCSA officials had no intention of complying with the provision.

Later in the day, a statement obtained by Land Line Magazine – attributed only to the agency – confirmed that information.

“In accordance with the 2008 omnibus appropriations act, the U.S. Department of Transportation will not establish any new demonstration programs with Mexico. The current cross-border trucking demonstration project – established in September – will continue to operate in a manner that puts safety first, with participating Mexican carriers subject to all safety standards required by the 2008 omnibus bill, while giving U.S. trucking companies new opportunities and U.S. consumers significant savings,” the FMCSA statement said.

The agency’s insistence in continuing the program drew fire from OOIDA.

“Apparently, this rogue administration wants to play word games and intends to thumb its nose at the clear Congressional intent behind the unambiguous legislation,” said OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer.

Despite the fact that FMCSA officials seem intent on continuing the program, it does not mean that move will go unchallenged.

OOIDA already has a lawsuit seeking to stop the program pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in San Francisco. Spencer said that if the administration continues with the cross-border program in spite of the funding cut, the Association will push forward on the pending lawsuit.

– By Jami Jones, senior editor