Congressman wants Mexican trucks barred

GRAIN VALLEY, Mo. — A letter sent from U.S. Rep Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), and 77 other lawmakers, calls for the Obama administration to start the process of removing cross-border trucking provisions with Mexico from the North American Free Trade Agreement.

DeFazio’s letter notes that there has been no comprehensive independent review to assess whether Mexico’s trucking standards and driver licensing and safety rules are equivalent to the requirements of the U.S.

The ability for Mexican trucks to travel U.S. highways has been an ongoing debate.

The Bush-era Mexican truck demonstration project allowed select Mexican carriers to travel beyond the 25-mile restriction zone. The contentious project was cancelled by the Obama administration last year and the Mexican government retaliated by slapping $2.4 billion in retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods.

Congress and the U.S. DOT have been under pressure to reinstate the program, or something similar, ever since. A plan to reconcile the year-long trade dispute was on its way recently according to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

"We are very near a proposal that we feel will meet all of the safety concerns that I heard when I talked to 25 members of Congress," LaHood told a Senate Subcommittee on Transportation and Housing in March.

However, a solution has not been easy to come by in the past. LaHood said that the plan has been hung up by various levels of government. "Every time we make a tweak or a change, everybody has to sign off on it."

The Owner-Operator Independent Driver Association (OOIDA) is supportive of DeFazio’s letter.

"Mexico’s regulatory standards and enforcement on trucks aren’t even remotely equivalent to what we have here. To open the border at this time is insanity from both an economic standpoint and safety," said Todd Spencer, executive vice-president of OOIDA.

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