Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa commended Congress for voting to ban unsafe Mexican trucks as part of the omnibus fiscal year 2009 appropriations bill that passed the Senate today. The House passed the bill last week.
“There is no doubt that Congress has once and for all killed the Bush administration’s expensive and illegal pilot project to open the border to Mexican trucks,” Hoffa said.
The project allowed certain Mexican trucks to travel beyond the 25-mile border zone starting just after Labor Day 2007. Though Congress shut down the project in the 2008 appropriations bill, the Bush administration ignored the ban, which expired at the end of the fiscal year.
“The driving public is put at risk when trucks from Mexico that don’t meet U.S. standards are allowed to roam our highways,” Hoffa said. “The Mexican government has not held up their end of the bargain to meet U.S. standards. Mexican trucks are unsafe and Mexican drivers are not required to meet the same criteria that American drivers must meet to earn a commercial drivers license. It’s long past time to close the border to these unguided missiles.”
The program cost U.S. taxpayers $500 million, according to the Washington Post. The Transportation Department’s inspector general reported on Feb. 6 that Mexican trucks made only 1,443 trips beyond the border zone, or about three per day. The cost of the program would therefore be more than $300,000 per trip.
The Feb. 6 report gave even more reason to oppose the project. Despite repeated assurances that the federal inspectors would “check every truck, every time” it crossed the border, the report said the Transportation Department couldn’t tell if every truck and driver were checked.
Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents more than 1.4 million hard-working men and women in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.