White House hasn't changed its mind on Mexican truck rules

| Thursday, November 01, 2001

While key people in both governments are reportedly perplexed with the new security headaches brought about by the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States, the White House has not changed its mind in regard to opening the nation's highways to Mexican trucks.

The White House press office addressed the Mexican truck issue Oct. 29 in a briefing to the media. President George W. Bush's press secretary Ari Fleischer said the president's position on allowing Mexican trucks into the country remains the same as it was. Jan. 1, 2002, is the date proposed by the administration to allow Mexican trucks to enter and travel on U.S. highways beyond the designated commercial zones.

Fleischer said Bush feels "that it's important for the trucks to be operating safely in the United States, for them to enter legally, and for the government to hire additional inspectors on the borders. So that way, they can inspect the trucks."

When asked if the administration would consider a kind of "phase-in" now, Fleischer said the action is now in the Congress and told reporters that President Bush is hoping that Congress will take action."

The legislation he is referring to is the transportation funding bill, one of the appropriations bills yet to be passed by lawmakers. Two different versions of this legislation that appropriates money for the Department of Transportation were passed earlier this year by the House and Senate but to date, no action has been taken to assign the debate to a conference committee to work out the differences in the bills. The legislation will earmark a specified amount for border state (Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas) grants for enforcement of motor carrier safety measures with respect to Mexican commercial motor vehicles operating in the United States.

Meanwhile, U.S. (federal) agencies have radically tightened security along its 2,000-mile (3,200 km) border with Mexico.
--Sandi Soendker

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