WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama has received recommendations from his transportation secretary for ending the month-long cross-border trucking dispute with Mexico.
The President is expected to discuss the issue with Mexican leader Felipe Calderon when he visits that country later this week.
According to Reuters and other news agencies, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood handed in the report to the White House earlier this week.
While it’s been reported that Obama is open to resurrecting the controversial Mexican truck pilot program (or some form of it) after Congress shut it down last month, it’s unknown at this point whether the administration would make such an announcement ahead of the trip.
"I don’t want to get in a position to either suggest that there will or there won’t be one," said Denis McDonough, the deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, was quoted as saying. "What I am telling you is that we’re aggressively working it and when we get an agreement we’ll announce it."
The Teamsters and other protectionist groups have been lobbying for the elimination of the cross-border program since George Bush greenlit the pilot in 2007. Congress shut it down earlier this year with Obama’s blessing, but Mexico immediately slapped retaliatory tariffs on $2.4 billion worth of U.S. goods.
Since then, LaHood and a handful of Congressmen from both sides of the aisle have been working on a plan to reopen the border.
The plan would ensure that "all trucks on the road adhere to the highest standard of safety."
It remains unclear how this plan would differ radically from the former project, which pre-screened hand picked Mexican carriers able to meet U.S. regulatory standards for equipment and drivers.
Last week, a coalition of about 140 U.S. business, manufacturing, food and agricultural organizations sent a letter to Obama urging a quick resolve to the dispute.
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