The Senate yesterday approved the transportation appropriations bill that includes 22 new safety provisions Mexican trucks will have to meet before being permitted to travel the U.S. The provisions approved by the Senate are tougher than those approved by the House last month, and could stall President Bush’s plan to give Mexican trucks full access to U.S. highways by January 1.

After the summer recess, which is scheduled to begin this weekend, the bill will move to Senate-House conference where differences in the respective versions will be negotiated before it is passed on to President Bush.

The Bush administration has said the president will veto the bill over the issue of Mexican trucks should the legislation reach his desk. Sen. John McCain, (R-AZ) said he will delay the bill as long as possible unless changes to the Senate language were made.

The House bill keeps the border closed by cutting off funds to DOT for processing applications from Mexican trucking companies. The Senate bill would give Mexican trucks access, but would set the safety bar higher than it is for new entrants in the U.S. trucking industry.