Senate Expected to Vote on Unsafe Mexican Truck Program

WASHINGTON, Sept. 10 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa today urged the Senate to act swiftly and decisively to block funding for the Bush administration's illegal Mexican truck program that is endangering the lives of American drivers.

Hoffa said the program threatens highway safety and national security. The danger posed by trucks from Mexico was made clear by the truck explosion late yesterday that killed at least 34 people and injured 150 in Northern Mexico .

A vote to block funding for the pilot program is expected to take place in the Senate on Monday afternoon of Sept. 10 or Tuesday, Sept. 11 .

"Tomorrow will be the sixth anniversary of the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil," Hoffa said. "I don't see how any patriotic American could vote to allow these dangerous trucks to cross our borders and travel freely throughout our country."

"We don't know who's driving these trucks and we don't know what they're carrying," Hoffa said. "Weapons that could be used in a terrorist attack might be in the backs of these trucks."

According to news reports, the first Mexican truck allowed beyond the safety zone crossed the border at Laredo at 12:51 a.m. Saturday. The truck traveled through Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and South Carolina to North Carolina, where it was to deliver a load of steel.

"Haven't the people of North Carolina suffered enough from the effects of free trade agreements?" Hoffa said. "To be the first state to receive a delivery directly from Mexico just adds a whole lot of insult to a whole lot of injury."

The Transportation Department's inspector general reported last week that five states said they aren't ready to enforce safety rules for the pilot project. Those five states are Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, Rhode Island and Utah, while Maryland did not respond.

The inspector general also reported that seven states don't have procedures in place for enforcing restrictions on point-to-point deliveries within the United States , a practice known as cabotage. Those are the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia , Louisiana, New Mexico , Utah and Washington.

The Senate is expected to vote on an amendment to the 2008 Transportation Appropriations bill offered by Sen. Byron Dorgan , D-N.D. The amendment will mirror language passed by the House that blocks funding for the program.

Note: Legal documents filed in the case and other documents related to this issue can be found at http://www.teamster.org.

SOURCE International Brotherhood of Teamsters



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