The Department of Transportation is expected to brief members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on a plan for cross-border trucking with Mexico before Mexican President Felipe Calderón visits Washington next week, according to a report today from Inside U.S. Trade.
President Obama may present a trucking plan to Calderón when they meet at the White House May 19, anonymous sources told Inside U.S. Trade, but the same sources said immigration and Mexico's drug war could bump trucking from the meeting's agenda.
Mexican officials have been eager to press the issue. Mexico slapped $2.4 billion worth of punitive tariffs on about 90 U.S. products in 2009 when the Obama administration and Congress killed a cross-border trucking program set up by the Bush administration.
Those tariffs have cost the U.S. roughly 25,000 jobs, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Labor unions, led by the Teamsters, and many members of Congress say the issue is keeping Mexican trucks they claim are unsafe off U.S. highways.
Cross-border trucking with Mexico is required by the North American Free Trade Agreement, however, and supporters of a new program say opponents are concerned with the potential loss of U.S. jobs, not highway safety.
At a May 6 Senate subcommittee hearing, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said a cross-border trucking proposal would be released "very soon." A replacement for the Bush-era program has been in the works for more than a year.
Any such program may face strong opposition in Congress. Last month a group of 78 members of Congress, mainly Democrats, demanded the Obama administration renegotiate NAFTA to eliminate its Mexican trucking mandate.
-- Contact William B. Cassidy at email@example.com.