Hot on the heels of a letter calling for a renegotiation of NAFTA to remove the cross-border trucking provision was delivered, Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-OR, took his efforts to the House floor.
On Wednesday, the chairman of the House Subcommittee on Highways and Transit sent off a letter that he spearheaded calling for the removal of the cross-border trucking provision from the North American Free Trade Agreement. The letter gained bipartisan support with 77 members of the House of Representatives signing on.
To read more about the letter, click here.
DeFazio followed up the letter with a statement he delivered to members of the House of Representatives on Wednesday afternoon.
The congressman challenged the Obama administration’s apparent refusal to challenge retaliatory tariffs put in place by the Mexico government following the closing of a cross-border pilot program initiated by the Bush administration.
“The Obama administration has steadfastly refused to contest the improper and excessive tariffs of $2.4 billion levied by Mexico because Congress terminated the cross-border trucking program due to serious safety concerns,” he told members of the House.
DeFazio reviewed the numerous safety concerns Congress had when members voted to pull the plug on the cross-border program – and he emphasized that the Mexican government has yet to do anything about them.
“There is no drug testing in Mexico. There are no hours-of-service requirements in Mexico. There are no meaningful commercial driver’s licenses issued in Mexico to know what the record of these drivers are,” he said.
The sole argument for opening the border to long-haul trucks from Mexico, apparently ignoring the safety and security concerns raised by members of Congress and highway users, centers on a cross-border trucking provision in NAFTA.
DeFazio and the other lawmakers pointed out in the letter that there is another option – renegotiate NAFTA. And, he pushed for more support of that option in his comments to the members of the House.
“They say they have no alternative, their hands are tied by NAFTA. Well, there is an alternative. And today I was joined in a letter to the president by 78 members of Congress, bipartisan, saying renegotiate that one minor section of NAFTA that has triggered this dispute. Keep the current system,” DeFazio told lawmakers.
Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood told Land Line Now this past week that an announcement on another cross-border trucking program would be coming soon.
Monday, the administration met with Mexican officials and an announcement on a cross-border program is expected when the president of Mexico, Felipe Calderón, visits in May and is scheduled to address a joint session of Congress.
– By Jami Jones, senior editor