Pressure grows to settle border issue
A year after the United States ended its cross-border trucking program with Mexico, congressional leaders and trade groups are pressuring federal leaders to resolve the issue.
At a March 4 hearing of the Senate Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Subcommittee, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) asked Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood for a timeline to resume cross-border trucking with Mexico.
Mexico imposed retaliatory tariffs of 10 percent to 45 percent on U.S. products soon after Congress voted to end its pilot program, hurting U.S. exports. Murray had also expressed these concerns to Ron Kirk, U.S. Trade Representative, she said. LaHood told her a plan was being finalized. Kirk and LaHood reportedly met in March to discuss the cross-border issue.
“We’re very near a proposal that we think will meet all of the safety concerns that I heard when I talked to 25 members of Congress,” LaHood said.
Rep. Rick Larsen, a Washington Democrat, had garnered 54 bipartisan congressional signatures for a March 1 letter to LaHood and Kirk, urging a quick resolution.
Trade groups have pushed to allow cross-border trucking beyond the border zone. The Teamsters and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association oppose it.
Rep. Gene Taylor (D-Miss.) introduced a bill March 4 that would end the North American Free Trade Agreement. It was referred to the House Ways and Means committee that day.
— Jill Dunn
FMCSA opens driver screening website
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration opened a website where carriers can register to access a safety database that will be set up for screening applicants for driving jobs.
Although data aren’t available yet, carriers and third-party driver service providers can register for the Pre-Employment Screening Program FMCSA is developing at www.psp.fmcsa.dot.gov.
The program will give carriers access to five years of an applicant’s accident history and three years of inspection history, with the driver’s permission. The data will come from the Motor Carrier Management Information System and include the same information used by agency staff and state police for enforcement. Drivers also will have access to the information, and can include the report as part of their application.