- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Republicans and Democrats yesterday rebuked the Bush administration for its recent agreement to open the border to Mexican trucks.

The White House last week announced a pilot program allowing up to 100 Mexican trucking companies to operate beyond the 70-mile commercial zone inside the U.S. border. Within two months, the truckers will be allowed to drive cross-country.

Several lawmakers said yesterday that Congress should block the policy change on the grounds of national security.

“It should be revisited,” said Rep. Tom Tancredo, a Colorado Republican who is running for president. “I’d like to feel a lot better about the security side of it. If the safeguards aren’t in place, we should … try to stop it.”

Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, New York Democrat, called the deal a “monumental” policy change that she finds “very disturbing.”

“I want to know more about it from a national security aspect,” she said. “We should have oversight and review.”

Sen. Patty Murray, Washington Democrat and chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee on transportation, housing and urban development, has promised a hearing to examine whether the plan meets safety standards.

The agreement on Mexican trucks was an undercurrent yesterday as the House unanimously passed a security measure aimed at preventing a repeat of the Dubai ports debacle.

The bill reforms the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States by expanding government power to review foreign investments in U.S. ports and power plants. It still must be approved in the Senate. Last year, lawmakers were outraged on learning that a Dubai-owned company would manage operations at some of the nation’s largest ports. The company later backed out of the deal.

Both chambers of Congress passed bills last year to reform the process for such agreements, but too many differences remained in the House and Senate versions for a final agreement to be reached before adjournment.

Mrs. Maloney said she expects success for the bill this year. Citing the need for President Bush’s support on the security legislation, she was reluctant to criticize the administration’s trucks deal.

The agreement does not limit the number of trucks a participating company can operate in the United States as long as the vehicles and their drivers pass safety inspections.

Trucks registered in Mexico currently are allowed to deliver goods only within 70 miles of the U.S. border.

Rep. Brian P. Bilbray, California Republican, noted that Mexican trucks are a common sight in his San Diego district. “The rest of the country is going to be exposed to what we’ve been exposed to for a decade,” he said. “Welcome to the real world.”

Rep. Steve Chabot, Ohio Republican, has long opposed opening the border to Mexican trucks. “I certainly think it ought to be reconsidered. The administration is just wrong on their policy,” he said.

Mexican trucks were allowed to travel on U.S. roads before 1982, when the federal government restricted them to the commercial zones near border towns.

The 1993 North American Free Trade Agreement promised access to all U.S. highways by 2000, but that deal was stalled in the courts for years.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times is switching its third-party commenting system from Disqus to Spot.IM. You will need to either create an account with Spot.im or if you wish to use your Disqus account look under the Conversation for the link "Have a Disqus Account?". Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide