SPECIAL REPORT: The Olver Amendment – what’s next on the Hill?

| 9/24/2004

Even though the U.S. House OK'd an amendment that would close a loophole allowing foreign trucks to operate on U.S. roads for two years without complying with safety regulations, the measure could be stalled until the next Congressional session.

To be enacted into law, the Olver Amendment must get into the conference report for the 2005 transportation-treasury appropriations bill.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the amendment Sept. 22.U.S. Rep. John Olver, D-MA, introduced the amendment. It passed by an impressive 339-70 majority.

However, the Senate has not yet taken up its version of the bill and may not before the end of the Congressional session. In fact, most of the other appropriations bills may all have "continuing resolutions" passed to extend them into the next Congressional session.

The other possibility is that all outstanding appropriations bills will be rolled together into one big omnibus bill and passed during a lame duck session.

All this means there's plenty of time for OOIDA members to voice their support of the Olver amendment.

In another matter, the six-month extensions being discussed for highway funding authorizations are a separate animal. Whatever gets passed as far as highway bill authorizations (six-months, a year, six years), will have no impact on the Olver amendment.

Mexican truck program raises concerns

In a separate but related development, the Federal Highway Administration asked members of the International Registration Plan (IRP) who oversee provisions of the program to develop a plan where trucks based in Mexico can license and permit for IRP and IFTA through one of four U.S border states.

From OOIDA's perspective, the major concern with this proposal is that it would allow Mexican carriers to more easily pass themselves off as U.S. carriers and make illegal point-to-point moves within the United States.

It would enable Mexican trucks to violate U.S. Customs and Immigration laws without detection and in doing so create competition for U.S. motor carriers and truck drivers that is specifically prohibited under NAFTA, OOIDA officials said.

Moreover, neither Customs nor INS have an effective means to enforce their regulations. There does not appear to be any ability at the federal level to track foreign vehicles once they enter the United States. Neither Customs nor INS stop vehicles when they are leaving the country to examine their logs to see if they have engaged in activities not permitted by their respective regulations.

"If Mexican trucks are permitted to claim as their base jurisdiction one of the U.S. border states, there will be no effective means to prevent those trucks from operating freely in the United States once they enter and deliver their international loads," said Todd Spencer, OOIDA's executive vice president.

"Those trucks will be able to obtain and carry domestic loads from brokers or their dispatchers with impunity. State officials will not be concerned about the use of their roads by those trucks because the trucks will presumably pay fuel taxes through their base state."