The House of Representatives voted 411-3 to codify requirements that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration must meet to execute a NAFTA program that would allow 100 Mexican trucking companies unfettered access to U.S. roads. The House passed the Safe American Roads Act of 2007, also known as H.R. 1773.

Rep. Peter Defazio (D-OR), a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said the bill would:

  • Ensure DOT analyzes the impact of Mexican trucks operating in the U.S.
  • Authorize DOT to undertake a pilot program of up to three years
  • Allow no more than 1,000 Mexican-domiciled trucks to participate in the program
  • Require a public notice and commenting period before the program proceeds
  • Require that the DOT report the findings of the program to Congress
  • Sets grounds for termination if the program fails to comply with any provision of the bill

The bill will be referred to the Senate.

“Whether the Senate will decide to take up this legislation, some other legislation or rely on its language in the emergency supplemental bill is up to [Senate] leadership,” Jim Berard, spokesman for the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee told FleetOwner.

The Senate had attached an amendment with weaker language on the Mexican truck program to the emergency war supplemental bill that was vetoed by President Bush, a spokeswoman for Rep. Nancy Boyda (D-KS) told FleetOwner. Rep. Boyda introduced H.R. 1773.

Read Mexican trucks targeted in supplemental bill.

The Senate amendment would have let the program begin only when U.S. trucking companies are allowed unfettered access to Mexican roads. The DOT has since changed the program in a bid to satisfy Senate concerns.

Read DOT announces changes to NAFTA demonstration project.

However, the overwhelming passage of H.R.1773 illustrates how far that DOT must go before it can reassure the House.

“I am skeptical about the wisdom of DOT’s decision to go forward with opening the border given the remaining unanswered questions,” stated Rep. Defazio. “I have serious concerns over the DOT’s ability to ensure Mexican carriers meet our federal safety requirements and the ability of U.S. inspectors to adequately monitor Mexican trucks and drivers once they cross the border.”

To comment on this article, write to Terrence Nguyen at tnguyen@fleetowner.com