Effort to slow cross-border trucking moving forward

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The first legislation to slow the Bush administration’s push to open the border to 100 Mexican motor carriers – with an unlimited number of trucks – could be one step away from hitting the president’s desk.

Section 4001 of the U.S. Senate’s supplemental appropriations bill, passed in early April, was added by Sen. Patty Murray, D-WA.

The amendment proposing to delay the program was submitted to the Senate Appropriations Committee after it was cleared with Sen. Christopher “Kit” Bond, R-MO.

The amendment would restrict spending any money on allowing Mexican motor carriers to operate beyond the border zone until three conditions are met. Those conditions are:

  • Granting such authority must first be tested as part of a pilot program;
  • The pilot program must comply with the requirements of Section 350 of the 2002 appropriations legislation and the requirements of Section 31315(c) of Title 49, United States Code, related to the pilot programs; and
  • Simultaneous and comparable authority to operate within Mexico is made available to motor carriers domiciled in the United States.
Murray submitted the amendment to the committee and it was accepted on a voice vote – with no opposition.

The full bill passed with Section 4001 in tact and must now be reconciled with the House of Representatives supplemental appropriations bill.

Both chambers of Congress have selected conference committee members who will meet to decide on a final version of the bill to be sent to the president for a signature. Those meetings were expected to begin Friday, April 20.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is pushing hard for Section 4001 to make it into the combined bill.

“This is must-pass legislation – in one form or another – and it’s on a tight time schedule. That gives Section 4001 a good shot at becoming law simply because the stand-alone bills face almost certain veto,” said OOIDA Director of Regulatory Affairs Rod Nofziger.

“Now is the time for OOIDA and anyone wanting this ill-advised program from going forward to call their House and Senate members who are members of the conference committee.”

Nofziger said even if you cannot speak directly to your lawmaker, talking to a legislative assistant in support for Section 4001 will be relayed to the lawmaker.

“Time is of the essence. Opportunities like this don’t come along often,” Nofziger said.

The main number to the Capitol switchboard is (202) 224-3121. Simply call the main number and ask to be connected to the office of one of the conference committee members listed below.

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