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12/26/2007

Congress kills funding for NAFTA trucks pilot

The Bush administration’s dangerous pilot program allowing selected Mexico-based trucks full access to U.S. roads should finally be coming to an end, now that the president has signed the omnibus appropriations bill.

The omnibus appropriations bill just signed into law prohibits use of Department of Transportation funds for the NAFTA trucks pilot program.

Earlier this year, both housesof Congress passed versions of the spending bill for the DOT that included language prohibiting the use of funds for the NAFTA trucks pilot project.

The final version of the DOT spending bill was expected to retain the provision, but the Senate was unable to wrap up its work on all the individual appropriations bills before the end of the year, so Congress finished off the year by rolling the separate spending bills into an omnibus. Negotiators dropped some policy provisions from the individual spending bills, but the prohibition of funding for the NAFTA trucks pilot project survived.

This action marks the culmination of congressional distaste for the dangerous program that has been allowing selected Mexico-domiciled carriers full access to U.S. roads since the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) launched the program in September.

The spending bill, now law, states, "None of the funds made available under this Act may be used to establish a cross-border motor carrier demonstration program to allow Mexico-domiciled motor carriers to operate beyond the commercial zones along the international border between the United States and Mexico."

The administration has time and time again flouted the clear intent of Congress that the public’s safety must be paramount in any decision to give NAFTA trucks unlimited access to U.S. roads. Both the House and the Senate overwhelmingly disapproved of opening U.S. roads to Mexico-domiciled trucks, yet FMCSA plowed ahead. Now Congress, in one of its last official moves before the close of business for the year, has once again drawn a line in the sand on behalf of the public’s safety.

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