Bill to ban Mexican trucks passes
The U.S. Senate voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to ban Mexican trucks from hauling cargo on American highways. The 74-24 vote was the latest in a series of roadblocks Congress has erected to thwart a federal pilot program giving Mexican trucking companies full access to U.S. roadways. “I don’t think there’s any evidence that we have equivalent standards of safety,” said Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., who wrote the bill. The Mexican truck program has drawn fierce opposition from Both she and Sen. Barbara Boxer, also D-Calif., voted for the amendment barring the use of federal money in the pilot program. The House recently passed a similar measure. Opening the border to trucks was a condition of the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement, which required that all roads in the U.S., Mexico and Canada be opened to carriers from all three countries. Canadian trucking companies already have full access to U.S. roads, but Mexican trucks can travel only 25 miles inside the country at certain border crossings. Supporters on Tuesday – primarily Republicans – said Mexican trucks will be held to the same standards as their American counterparts. They also noted that under the pilot program, only 600 foreign trucks would be traveling across the border. “That’s a pretty minuscule number,” Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., said, noting that about 5.1 million commercial trailers were registered for business purposes in the U.S. last year. “Those people who fear that Mexican trucks will not be held to the same standard as U.S. trucks in America are incorrect,” Kyl said. “It seems to me it is worth giving this program a chance.” Sen. John Cornyn – who offered a failed amendment that would have allowed the program but enforced even tougher safety requirements – accused opponents of discriminating against Mexico. “How does it look if we’re going to hold trucks coming from Mexico to a different standard than trucks from Canada?” he said. email@example.com (202) 662-8731160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! consumer-safety groups and others who contend that Mexican trucks are unregulated, dirty and unsafe. The debate has been particularly heated in California, where San Diego’s Otay Mesa is the second- busiest cargo crossing on the U.S.-Mexico border, after Laredo, Texas. Coming on the heels of a major explosion on a northern Mexico highway – when a dynamite- laden truck collided with another vehicle and killed 34 people – several lawmakers called the vote an important move to protect drivers on American roads. “While this program would not allow Mexican trucks to transport hazardous materials inside the United States, this tragedy reconfirms my commitment to preventing accidents on American highways,” said California Sen. Dianne Feinstein.