Here We Go Again……
The Obama administration’s announcement this week of a final plan for a pilot program allowing Mexican long-haul trucks to operate throughout the U.S. was immediately met with opposition. One lawmaker introduced legislation to limit the effects of the program, while an industry group filed a lawsuit seeking to stop it from proceeding. The three-year pilot is designed to resolve a longstanding dispute, and its announcement prompted Mexico to suspend 50% of its retaliatory tariffs on U.S. exports as of July 8.
Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., introduced July 6 the Protecting America’s Roads Act (H.R. 2407), which would limit the operation of Mexican long-haul trucks beyond U.S. border zones to the three-year period of the pilot program. In contrast, DeFazio said, the Department of Transportation has agreed to “allow Mexican trucking companies to operate permanently in the U.S., even if the pilot program is eventually terminated.” He argued that “allowing a pilot program to casually morph into an open border exceeds DOT’s authority under the law and flies in the face of the limitation enacted by Congress” several years ago. The bill would also prohibit DOT from purchasing, acquiring or installing on-board recorders for Mexican carriers participating in the pilot, a provision that DeFazio called “outrageous.”
For its part, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association Inc. is asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to “enjoin, set aside, suspend (in whole or in part) or determine the validity” of the pilot program, claiming that DOT exceeded its statutory authority in promulgating it. OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer alleged that the pilot will “jeopardize the livelihoods of tens of thousands of U.S.-based small-business truckers and professional truck drivers” and result in increased government spending. An OOIDA press release added that Mexico’s agreement to provide reciprocal access to U.S. trucks will have little effect because “most truckers refuse to haul loads into Mexico because of safety concerns.” The organization also cited recent DOT data in arguing that “trade with Mexico is already healthy and rising without the new trucking program in place.”