The outgoing spokesman for President Bush says the U.S. Department of Transportation is trying to make sure that any trucks and truckers on U.S. highways are safe.

Tony Snow, who announced his plans to leave the White House post in two weeks, added that he doesn’t believe what the president of the Teamsters Union has to say about the issue actually would be impartial.

He was responding to a press briefing question from Les Kinsolving, WND’s correspondent at the White House. Kinsolving asked: “Teamsters President Hoffa has called the Bush administration’s test program to allow Mexican trucks unrestricted access to U.S. highways, in his words, ‘a disaster; all we’re asking is that Mexican trucks and truckers meet the same standards as American trucks and drivers.’ My question: Why do the Teamsters have to go to court to try to make Mexican truck drivers meet the same drug screening, physical evaluations and hazmat certifications as U.S. truckers?”

The Teamsters and other organizations went to court this week to try to obtain an order halting the program, and the Bush administration has responded with a request that it be allowed to move forward.

“There are a number of things that the Department of Transportation is involved in, in trying to maintain and ascertain and guarantee the safety of any trucks that are on U.S. highways,” Snow said. “I don’t think that I will buy lock, stock and barrel what the president of the Teamsters Union has to say about possibly competing trucking operations.”

The Bush administration’s court response to the request by the Sierra Club and Teamsters to block the program, scheduled to begin this weekend, was that the two organizations didn’t have standing to ask for the halt, since they cannot prove the pilot program will harm them.

The two groups opposed the program, to involve 100 Mexican trucking companies with the possibility of bringing thousands of Mexican trucks onto U.S. highways, citing safety concerns and competition with U.S. truckers.

Mexican trucks and truckers already are allowed into the U.S., and the administration said 4.5 million trips are made each year. They are, however, limited to a short zone along the border, while the new program would erase that limit and give them virtually unrestricted access nationwide.

Teamsters’ chief James Hoffa told G. Gordon Liddy on his radio talk show that the Mexican trucks and drivers will endanger U.S. lives, damage U.S. jobs, pollute the U.S. environment and benefit no one but big business.

“They want to make it so there’s no regulation. You get in your truck in Monterey, Mexico, and drive to Montreal. You’d have to be on speed to do it,” Hoffa said.

He said corporate interests have decided, “We’re going to run ’em to death so we can make more money.”

“That’s that this is about,” he told Liddy.

WND began reporting on the plan months ago, and has documented the growing opposition to the plan, which many blame on the 2005 Security and Prosperity Partnership signed by President Bush and the leaders of Mexico and Canada.

Supporters say that plan is a way to smooth the regulations so business flows more easily between the nations of North America, opponents consider it another step in a not-so-veiled attempt to set up a merger of the three nations.

“All we’re asking is that Mexican trucks and truckers meet the same standards as American trucks and drivers,” Hoffa said. He cited the requirements in the United States for commercial drivers’ licenses, drug screening, physical evaluations, hazmat certifications, etc.

In a second question, Kinsolving asked: “Did the president, on May the 30th of last year, promise completion of 70 miles of border fencing by this coming September the 30th, when less than 20 miles of this fencing have reportedly been completed?”

Snow said that was wrong, and actually more than 80 miles have been completed.

According to California congressman and Republican presidential candidate Duncan Hunter, however, only 17.9 of the 854 miles of fencing called for in the Secure Fence Act have been completed.

“Unless construction is promptly accelerated,” Hunter wrote in a recent letter to Bush, “deadlines for the completion of fencing will not be met.”

Hunter’s letter pointed out the Secure Fence Act calls for completing 392 miles of fencing from Calexico, Calif., to Douglas, Ariz., by May 30, 2008. Additionally, the act mandates 30 miles of fencing be completed in the Laredo, Texas, sector by Dec. 31, 2008.

“It is my understanding that approximately $800 million is currently available for the installation of border infrastructure,” Hunter’s letter continued. “Despite this funding, only 17.9 of the 854 miles of fencing called for in the Secure Fence Act have been completed as of Aug. 10, 2007.”

“This lack of progress is unacceptable, especially when adequate funding is available to earnestly proceed with fence construction,” Hunter wrote.

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