House Members Rip Cross-Border Trucking

House Members Rip Cross-Border Trucking

Instead of working on a new cross-border trucking program with Mexico, some members of Congress want the United States to renegotiate the North America Free Trade Agreement.

Provisions requiring cross-border trucking between the United States and Mexico should be stripped from NAFTA, 78 members of Congress told the Obama administration today.

Congress is unlikely to approve any cross-border trucking program with Mexico, they warned Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk.

“The safety concerns are just too big an obstacle to overcome,” said Rep.
Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., who wrote a letter to LaHood and Kirk signed by the congressional group.

The 72 Democrats and six Republicans also stressed the economic and security concerns about allowing Mexican trucks to operate beyond the 20-mile border commercial zone.

“Should the border be fully opened to Mexican trucks, the low wages of Mexican drivers will drive U.S. trucking companies out of business,” they said in the letter.

“This continues a disturbing trend of American job losses through outsourcing. The difference is that we are allowing foreign workers making foreign wages to enter our nation and unfairly compete for American jobs,” the members of Congress said.

U.S. and Mexican officials this week said they are working on a replacement for the cross-border trucking demonstration project Congress shot down in March 2009.

That led Mexico to slap $2.4 billion in retaliatory tariffs on 90 U.S. products.

LaHood and Mexican Secretary of Communications and Transport Juan Molinar Horcasitas this week announced plans for a “working group” to consider “next steps” toward reviving cross-border trucking after a meeting in Monterrey, Mexico.

They said establishing a new bi-national trucking program is a “highest priority.”

Kirk has also discussed the trucking program and the need to resolve the tariff dispute.

“This program is going to go forward,” LaHood told The Journal of Commerce last month. “We’re very close to a proposal we want to promote with the Mexican government and promote with Congress. We’ll be doing that very soon.”

DeFazio doesn’t think so.

“The Obama administration proposal has not been made public and I have not seen it, but I am skeptical that Congress will approve any program of this kind,” he said.

Contact William B. Cassidy at wcassidy@joc.com

Contact William B. Cassidy at wcassidy@joc.com.