A U.S. Senate subcommittee is sure to get an earful
Thursday, March 8, about the problems the country will face if the Mexican
truck pilot program is allowed to proceed.
The pilot program was announced Feb. 22.
No sooner than the
announcement hit the newswire, snaked down K Street and telegraphed around
Capitol Hill, U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-WA, chair of the Senate
Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, said she would convene a hearing on
Murray said her
intent is to investigate whether the Bush administration has fulfilled both
"the spirit and the letter of the law." If there is a hole in the plan, Murray
should recognize it. As chairman of the Senate subcommittee, she has a long
history with cross-border trucking issues, up close and personal.
When the Bush
administration first proposed opening the border to long-haul Mexican trucks,
the Republican House voted to prohibit cross-border trucking outright due to
inadequate safety standards. When the Bush administration threatened to veto
that prohibition in the summer of 2001, Murray authored a bipartisan compromise
requiring dozens of new safety requirements to ensure that cross-border
trucking would not pose a risk to the American public.
written by Murray and Sen. Richard Shelby, R-AL, for the 2002 transportation
appropriations bill, was essentially the "to-do list" that has provided
sensible guidance for the U.S. DOT.
The Murray-Shelby language prohibited the DOT from granting
operating authority until a number of safety and compliance measures were put
in place. These measures included adequate border staffing, inspection
facilities, the ability to check the validity of Mexican driver's licenses,
vehicle registration, and to verify insurance.
hearing has a full slate of heavy-hitters set to testify on Thursday. Among
those testifying are Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters, FMCSA
Administrator John Hill, Department of Transportation Inspector General Calvin
L. Scovel III, Assistant Secretary
of Transportation for the Mexican Department of Communications and
Industry stakeholders will also testify. The Owner-Operator
Independent Drivers Association will be represented by Board Member Charlie
Parfrey at the hearing. Others testifying include International Brotherhood of
Teamsters General President James P. Hoffa and Public Citizen President Joan
Parfrey will call to task a number of problems with the
pilot program. The Senate subcommittee members will hear how the Department of
Transportation's effort to get the program off the ground has "been almost
entirely in secret and beyond public view or scrutiny."
Working behind that shroud of secrecy has prompted OOIDA,
through Parfrey, to challenge both the American and Mexican transportation
officials to answer critical questions related to highway safety.
In Parfrey's testimony, OOIDA will call for documentation
and clarification on the Mexican CDL requirements, hours-of-service regulations
and drug testing just to name a few. Once operating within the U.S., OOIDA will
also challenge the DOT to prove there will be any kind of real enforcement of
Mexican-domiciled trucks and Mexican CDL holders, and what, if anything, will
result from that enforcement.
- By Land Line staff