Although congressionally defunded, transportation officials sign agreement anyway
- Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood
by Jack Minor
In an issue that will not die, government transportation officials signed an agreement to let Mexican trucks travel on U.S. highways, despite Congress refusing to fund it.
The three year agreement reinstates a pilot program first started by President Bush and defunded by Congress in 2009. The plan requires Mexican trucks operating in the country, to comply with all US safety standards and to install monitoring devices to track truck usage.
The monitoring requirements will apply to both US and Mexican trucks on the roads. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has said he will be using Highway Trust Fund money, intended to maintain the interstate highway system, to pay for installation of the onboard recorders on the Mexican trucks. American truck owners will be required to pay for their own recorders.
Supporters of the program say it will create jobs, since American truck drivers will also be allowed into Mexico. Critics say while that may be technically true, American drivers will be reluctant to drive across the border due to concerns about crime.
A highway cargo trade group, cited by the Transportation Security Administration, said criminals in Mexico hijacked over 10,000 commercial motor vehicles last year. Mexico’s National Cargo Shipping Chamber told the Christian Science Monitor that cargo theft rose 50 percent between 2009 and 2010.
The Teamsters issued a statement by President Jim Hoffa condemning the program. “Opening the border to dangerous trucks at a time of high unemployment and rampant drug violence is a shameful abandonment of the DOT’s duty to protect American citizens from harm and to spend American tax dollars responsibly.”
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Posted by Jack Minor in General News category