WASHINGTON – U.S.
transportation officials expressed disappointment after
the House voted to block a program granting Mexican trucks
temporary access to U.S. highways.
The measure must pass
the Senate and be signed into law by President Bush, who
supports opening America's highways to Mexican trucks.
The ban was part of a $104 billion transportation
spending bill approved by the House Tuesday. It would
prohibit the Department of Transportation from spending
any money on a one-year experiment in cross-border
trucking, effectively shutting down the program.
The Senate is not expected to consider its own version
of transportation spending legislation until September.
Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Alpine, a key opponent of the
Mexican-trucking plan, said the House ban would force
transportation officials to “listen to the concerns of
Congress and the American people.”
Hunter and other critics contend the administration has
ignored safeguards for the program mandated by Congress.
The Transportation Department issued a statement after
the vote saying it “serves merely to throw another
roadblock in the path of a program that will lower
consumer costs, help our economy and allow U.S. truckers
to compete in Mexico for the first time ever.”
Mexican trucks have been banned from traveling freely
throughout the United States since 1982.