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Senate Vote Places Safety Above Free Trade at All Costs

July 26, 2001

Senate Vote Places Safety Above Free Trade at All Costs

Statement of Public Citizen President Joan Claybrook



Today’s Senate cloture vote to stop the filibuster of the Murray-Shelby agreement in the Department of Transportation (DOT) appropriations bill is a significant victory for the safety of motorists in the United States. The Murray-Shelby provisions are designed to protect Americans from the potential hazards of Mexican trucks, which currently are not subjected to the same safety standards as American carriers. If the current DOT bill is passed, the Murray-Shelby provisions will help ensure that non-discriminatory inspections of Mexican trucks will be carried out both at the border and on site at the companies’ center of operations, thus holding them to the same regulatory standards as U.S. and Canadian vehicles entering our country. Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) are to be commended for their leadership roles in defeating the filibuster and getting these safety standards written into the bill.

Furthermore, the significant number of senators who voted for cloture — 70 — undermines President Bush’s threat of vetoing a bill that will act in the health and safety interests of all Americans. It’s refreshing that, in the face of an administration that is pushing for more free trade at all costs, the Senate is doing the wise thing by protecting its citizens first. We must not permit the expanded trade allowed by NAFTA to be accomplished at the expense of the safety of those on our country’s roads.