As work begins between
the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate on a final transportation
spending bill, the deadlock on the Mexican truck issue ensues despite compromise
offers from both sides.
When the Senate and the
House left town for an August recess, three different positions had been staked
out on the issue. First the House passed a one year ban on the Federal Motor
Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) from registering Mexican trucks to operate
in the United States. Then the Senate passed a comprehensive list of preconditions
that Mexican Motor Carriers and the FMCSA must meet before the border opens.
Both bills drew the strong opposition of Senators Phil Gramm (R-TX), John
McCain (R-AZ), and Kit Bond (R-MO) and a veto threat from the Bush Administration.
Border security have
become a topic of heightened interest since Sept. 11, but this has not deterred
the Bush administration. Despite the call by many for increased border enforcement,
the White House has indicated that these concerns have not deterred it from
pursuing a swift opening of the border.
Now Sen. Patty Murray
(D-WA) and Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) have proposed a compromise to address
the Bush administration's specific objections. The original Murray-Shelby
amendment required Mexican carriers to purchase insurance from American companies,
required every border crossing to have fixed scales and weigh-in-motion technology,
and required Mexican trucks to undergo inspection each time it crossed the
border into the United States. In the new Murray-Shelby compromise, Mexican
carriers would be required to purchase insurance from a U.S. licensed insurance
company; Mexican trucks would only have to be inspected every 90 days; and
while all border crossings are required to have scales to enforce weight restrictions,
only the 10 busiest border crossings would be required to have weigh-in-motion
The Murray-Shelby compromise
continues to include a comprehensive list of preconditions to the border opening,
including the mandatory on-site inspection of Mexican carriers, the computer
validation of each Mexican driver's license by federal and state inspectors,
and the requirement that Mexican trucks only make border crossings where a
certified motor carrier safety inspector is on duty.
The House and Senate
appropriators may meet as early as today (Nov. 14), but it is unclear how
long their meetings may take or in what form a compromise on Mexican trucks
These meetings must also
resolve differences in spending priorities on various Department of Transportation
--Paul Cullen Jr.