Congressional leaders want Bush to reconsider opening Mexican border

| 8/30/2007

Even though the U.S. House voted just last month to withhold funding for a cross-border trucking program with Mexico, the Bush administration is reportedly beginning the program next week, and that has members of Congress calling for the DOT to put on the brakes.

“By moving to implement its cross-border trucking program, DOT is demonstrating complete disregard for the safety of vehicle motorists and the security threat created by granting Mexican truckers unrestricted access into the United States,” U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-CA, told Land Line on Thursday, Aug. 30.

Hunter and other members of Congress expressed renewed concern about the program after reports that the cross-border program would begin next week. To read Land Line’s coverage of the details, as well as what action OOIDA is taking, click here.

Many members of Congress have been opposed to the fast-track approach that the administration has taken with the cross-border pilot program since announcing it in February this year.

U.S. Rep. Jason Altmire, D-PA, was one of 114 House members who sent a letter to President Bush last month expressing their concerns regarding the cross-border program.

Altmire told the Pittsburg Tribune-Review this week that his concerns haven’t been satisfied.

“I remain extremely concerned about the ability of Mexican truck operators to meet U.S. safety standards and the impact that this program will have on our homeland security,” Altmire said.

Some observers thought that such concerns about homeland security and public safety, coupled with the House vote to withhold funding, would stall the program so congressional directions could be followed.

“Congress provided DOT with clear guidelines that had to be met before this program could move forward,” Rep. Hunter told Land Line. “Instead of adhering to the rule of law and working to meet these guidelines, DOT appears to have put the commercial interests of Mexican trucking companies before the safety and security of American people.

“I am pleased my colleagues joined me in successfully offering an amendment to the House FY2008 Transportation Appropriations Act prohibiting the use of federal funds for the implementation of this program. I am confident that the Senate will partner with us on this effort to ensure that our roadways remain free from unsafe and dangerous vehicle traffic.”

But Rep. Nick Lampson, D-TX, and others in Congress said they remain concerned. He told the Houston Chronicle exactly why.

“I would hope that President Bush would reconsider what he’s doing,” said Lampson, who serves on the House Transportation Committee.

“We need to place the safety of Texans as high as we possibly can place this, and doing this, I think, takes some chances.”