Senate Moves Forward on Mexican Truck Restrictions
Jul 27, 2001 12:00 PM
Despite the threat of a presidential veto, the US Senate voted overwhelmingly July 26 to move forward with plans to impose punitive safety standards on Mexican truckers seeking access to US roads. A 70-30 procedural vote shut down a GOP-led filibuster designed to kill the Senate bill, which has been criticized as anti-Hispanic and anti-Mexican.
The Senate legislative effort is designed to sabotage efforts by the Bush Administration to comply with the requirements of the North American Free Trade Agreement. The administration wants to open the US-Mexico border to longhaul trucking in January 2002 in what has been called an attempt to meet the open-border obligations of the eight-year-old trade treaty and to improve trade and diplomatic ties with Mexico.
Promoted by organized labor and the Senate leadership, the Senate plan proposes around-the-clock inspections of Mexican trucks at the border and would require Mexican trucking companies to obtain insurance from an insurer licensed to operate in the United States. The inspections would be more intensive than those generally required of Canadian trucks crossing the border.
President Bush and other Republicans charge that the inspection program would be so expensive and time-consuming that it would delay the opening of the border to large numbers of Mexican trucks for at least two years.
President Bush said he will block the Senate legislation even if it means a veto of the $60 billion Senate transportation spending bill that contains the inspection and insurance plan. The White House and the Mexican government have characterized the provision as a clear violation of NAFTA.
Countering that the Senate plan does not violate NAFTA, Sen Patty Murray (D-WA), chairman of the Senate subcommittee on transportation appropriations, said the objective is to ensure the safety of US motorists.