Bush to sign bill delaying Mexican truck pilot Program


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Washington - It was a good day for American owner-ops, driver unions, and other groups strongly opposed to the Bush Administration's promise to open up the U.S. border to 100 select Mexican trucking companies.

Congress and the Senate passed a funding bill that keeps Mexican truckers restricted to the current 20-mile commercial zone on the U.S. side of the border. The bill passed the House by a vote of 280-142 and the Senate by a vote of 80-14.

Despite pushing the Mexican truck plan for years, President bush is expected to sign the bill that will effectively shelve it.

The Department of Transportation was on the verge of launching a one-year pilot project, which would have granted 100 handpicked Mexican carriers, with about 1,000 trucks, free access to the U.S. market.

The plan, however, while supported by the American Trucking Associations, ran into stiff opposition from groups like the owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, Teamsters Union, and special interest group Public Citizen, who were able to convince enough U.S. politicians to put the brakes on the project.

The bill now requires the Transportation Department's inspector general to make sure the DOT is able to impose U.S. safety rules and conditions on Mexican trucks that travel beyond the commercial zone. The IG must also report to Congress whether he thinks "the pilot program is hurting highway safety" and whether safety laws are being enforced.

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