President Obama's proposed budget would breathe new life into a cross-border trucking agreement with Mexico, allocating $50.4 million to support truck inspections at the U.S. border and "the Mexican long-haul program."
It's the first time funding has been budgeted for such a program since Obama signed a bill in 2009 cutting off funding for a Bush-era program launched in 2007. That action led to a mini-trade war as Mexico imposed $2.4 billion in retaliatory tariffs.
The administration's budget proposal didn't provide details on how the $50.4 million would be allocated. Some may be slated for Canadian border programs. But at least $5 million would be dedicated to improving facilities along the U.S.-Mexico border.
The White House released a blueprint for a new cross-border trucking program with Mexico in January, and the Department of Transportation and Office of the U.S. Trade Representative are negotiating with their Mexican counterparts.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood last month said he expects an agreement between the U.S. and Mexico by the middle of the year. Any agreement, however, will face deep hostility from organized labor and its allies in Congress.
Efforts to end the dispute over when and how to implement the cross-border trucking provisions of the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement have broken on bedrock opposition from the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.
Consumer safety advocates and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association have consistently opposed letting Mexican truckers operate beyond the commercial zones that extend 20 to 25 miles north of the border.
-- Contact William B. Cassidy at email@example.com.