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Letter urges repeal of Mexican trucks program

US Rep Peter DeFazio (D-OR) sent a bipartisan letter signed by 78 members of Congress to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and US Trade Representative Ron Kirk, asking that they consider repealing the program that opens US roadways to Mexican trucks.

The program, suspended since early 2009 under the Obama administration, was begun under the Bush administration under provisions of the 1993 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

But Mexico “has no meaningful system for commercial driver’s licenses, drug testing or hours of service. . . . (NAFTA) is a trade agreement that threatens the safety of the American public,” DeFazio wrote.

He chairs the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s highways and transit subcommittee. The letter was also signed by Rep James Oberstar (D-MN), who chairs the full committee.

LaHood and his Mexican counterpart agreed to form a working group to consider the next steps of the two nations’ cross-border trucking program.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) is applauding the DeFazio letter.

“Every year, US truckers are burdened with new safety, security, and environmental regulations. Those regulations come with considerable compliance costs,” said Todd Spencer, executive vice-president of OOIDA.

“Mexico’s regulatory standards and enforcement on trucks aren’t even remotely equivalent to what we have here. To open the border at this time is insanity from both an economic standpoint and safety,” Spencer said. “Commercial vehicles crossing the southern border are still the principal way drug trafficking organizations get their products into the United States. Providing Mexico-domiciled truckers with access throughout America will amplify existing vulnerabilities and will surely be exploited by criminal enterprises as well as terrorist organizations.”

For decades, Mexico has refused to raise regulatory standards on its own trucking industry.

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