King George Continues to Defy Congress and the People
By Brett Caldwell
Different song, same refrain: the Imperial Court of King George has again violated the will of Congress and the people.
The House of Representatives voted to ban Mexican trucks from U.S. highways 411 to 3 vote.
The Senate voted 75 to 23.
The American public - Republican, Democrat or Independent - wants no part of the program.
In fact, Mexican truckers and the Mexican public don't want anything to do with it.
Despite all this opposition, Bush is defying the will of Congress and refusing to cut off funding for the Mexican truck pilot program.
This is just one more payoff to the Bush administration's corporate cronies as they prepare to cross the moat one last time.
Not to mention that you can now just add highway safety to the growing list of laws the Bush administration has brazenly broken in their quest to exact more and more profits at the expense of the American middle class.
Many Americans are alarmed by the suspension of habeas corpus, torture, domestic spying, and the list goes on and on and on. For most, that record of lawlessness is somewhat abstract - more abstract than the reality of 80,000 pound unguided missiles from Mexico careering down our highways.
The Department of Transportation (DOT) says that Mexico and the U.S. have met all of the legal requirements to establish the program, but the DOT's own inspector general specifically lays out a number of areas that the DOT has NOT met the legal requirements. Specifically, the program breaks laws requiring the DOT to:
1. Create a program that yields statistically valid findings;
2. Show that U.S. trucks have the same right to travel in Mexico that Mexican-domiciled trucks have to travel here; and
3. Reveal the inspection results for motor carriers allowed to drived beyond the border.
The DOT inspector general's report released on August 21, 2007 makes it clear that those requirements have not been met. Among the conditions identified by the inspector general:
1. Border states keep poor records of Mexican-domiciled truck drivers' traffic convictions;
2. Checks of the validity of Mexican-domiciled commercial drivers' licenses against Mexico's database resulted in a failure rate of nearly 20 percent;
3. The government won't be able to inspect every truck every time it crosses the border;
4. Drug testing continues to be questionable in Mexico.
According to research by OOIDA, a review of FMCSA's own database, SafeStat, the department's record-keeping also brings into question the numbers they keep flouting to prove that "Mexican trucks are as safe as U.S. trucks." OOIDA's report shows:
"In the span of one year, Sept. 21, 2006, through Sept. 21, 2007, the four Mexican motor carriers amassed more than 1,700 violations. One of the companies averaged more than 112 violations per truck for the 10 power units in its fleet during that year.
"I observe that these motor carriers also received many violations for which an out-of-service order should have been issued, but was not," Craig testified.
Examples included violations related to lighting, suspension, tires and all other driver violations, such as a non-English speaking driver.
Craig also noted there were numerous other violations that could have been the basis for an out-of-service order, but the inspection report does not provide enough information to make that determination.
And don't get me wrong, this isn't about the Mexican truck driver . That's why they're against it too. They are just a pawn in the fight to move more goods for less money.
No one in the U.S. or Mexican governments is talking about improving the driver's standard of living.
No one is talking about providing them with better, safer equipment.
No one is talking about ensuring they follow U.S. wage and hour laws for their economic security and personal safety.
No one is talking about establishing a real system in Mexico that keeps unsafe drivers off the road, so that you have safe drivers there too.
Instead, DOT Secretary Mary Peters and Bush are willing to violate the law.
The 9th Circuit is currently scheduled to hear arguments in a lawsuit filed by the Teamsters and our coalition partners in February. That suit shows how the pilot program is illegal in the first place.
Now the Bush administration is forcing us back into court as they intend to violate the law again by not stopping the already illegal program.
And let's not forget, Bush just signed the Omnibus bill yesterday (which includes the cross-border ban) on a flight to Crawford for vacation.
Only a King would sign a law that he has no intention of following - and expect to get away with it. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bret-caldwel...o-_b_78725.html
Administration's move angers foes in Congress
By David Washburn
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
December 27, 2007
The Bush administration will continue to operate a controversial, cross-border trucking program despite language in the $555 billion appropriations bill signed by President Bush yesterday aimed at eliminating the program's funding.
The administration's move, while not unexpected, sparked outrage from Democratic and Republican members of Congress who have fought to kill the three-month-old pilot program, which allows long-haul Mexican trucks to travel throughout the United States.
“The administration seems to believe that the law doesn't apply to them,” Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., the author of the appropriations bill amendment that sought to cut funding for the program, said in a statement.
Dorgan and other opponents of the program say the amendment's language is unambiguous, and that the administration's action will be challenged in Congress and the courts.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration began implementing the one-year experimental program Sept. 6. It allows as many as 100 Mexican companies to send their trucks into the United States from coast to coast.
Bush and other supporters of the program view it as a step toward fulfilling a North American Free Trade Agreement obligation to open all roads in the United States, Mexico and Canada to trucks from all three countries.
Historically, Canadian trucking companies have had full access to U.S. roads, but since 1982, Mexican trucks have been able to travel only about 20 miles inside the country at certain border crossings, such as San Diego and El Paso, Texas.
Dorgan, more than 100 other members of Congress and several interest groups, such as the Teamsters union and independent truck drivers, contend that the program lacks sufficient safeguards to ensure that Mexican trucks meet the same standards as American trucks.
Background: Congress has wrangled with the Bush administration over a pilot program allowing Mexican and U.S. trucks to travel freely in both countries.
What's changing: The appropriations bill contained an amendment aimed at cutting funding for the program. However, the administration said the program will be funded through September.
Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Alpine, has said the program demonstrates a “complete disregard” for the safety of U.S. motorists and the security threat posed by Mexican truckers.
U.S. transportation officials deny such assertions and say Mexican trucks and their drivers undergo strict inspections before they are allowed in the country.
Supporters of the program include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Mexican government. They say it will greatly benefit the economies of both countries.
“The Mexican Embassy welcomes the decision by the DOT to continue operating the ongoing cross-border trucking demonstration program,” Mexican Embassy spokesman Ricardo Alday said yesterday. “The administration's position strongly supports the view that complying and expanding the benefits of NAFTA is in the best interest of both our nations.”
Opponents of the program say they are incensed with how the administration parsed language to justify its continuation.
Dorgan's amendment to the appropriations bill included the following: “None of the funds made available under this Act may be used to establish a cross-border motor carrier demonstration program to allow Mexico-domiciled motor carriers to operate beyond the commercial zones along the international border between the United States and Mexico.”
Officials with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration stated yesterday that the amendment allows programs that have already begun to continue.
“(The) U.S. Department of Transportation will not establish any new demonstration programs with Mexico,” a government statement released yesterday said. “The current cross-border trucking demonstration project – established in September – will continue to operate in a manner that puts safety first.”
Many observers expected the administration to follow this logic, but opponents say it is shaky.
“Despite this subjective interpretation by the agency, it is clear that the omnibus (spending bill) prohibits federal funds from being applied to the program over the fiscal year,” said Joe Kasper, a spokesman for Hunter.
Others were more pointed with their criticism.
“This is yet another example of a rogue administration thumbing its nose at Congress and thumbing its nose at the concerns of the American people,” said Todd Spencer, spokesman for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association. http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/busines...27mextruck.html