The Bush administration continues to push forward with its controversial project allowing Mexican trucks to move freely on U.S. roads despite strong protests from both chambers of Congress, where legislation is pending.

“Congress has stated clearly that it believes going forward with such a program, without the information needed to assure safety on American roads, is not safe,” said Barry Piatt, spokesman for Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D.

Dorgan successfully amended the Senate Transportation Appropriations Bill to include language to stop the Mexican Truck Demonstration Program, hoping the Bush administration would respond.

However, even though the House and Senate agreed to retain the language, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, or FMCSA, is continuing with the program.

According to the conference report on the House bill, HR 3074, issued Nov. 13, “None of the funds made available under this Act may be used to establish a cross-border motor carrier demonstration program to allow Mexico-domiciled motor carriers to operate beyond the commercial zones along the international border between the United States and Mexico.”

The bill, however, awaits approval by both the full House and the full Senate.

Jenny Tallheimer, spokeswoman for the Senate Appropriations Committee, told WND, “At this point the transportation appropriations bill is being lumped with the other appropriations bill into a larger omnibus bill.

“Both the House and the Senate are currently negotiating the details of the larger appropriations bill, and once that is complete the legislation will be introduced in the House and the Senate,” she said. “No time table has been set at this point however.”

There also is no guarantee that the language in the conference report designed to defund the Mexican Truck program will remain in a new omnibus bill.

Without an appropriation bill containing such language, the program can continue.

FMCSA’s website lists 10 Mexican carriers with a total of 55 trucks that are approved to transport goods throughout the U.S.

The FMCSA was asked to comment but did not reply to phone calls or e-mails.

About 40 more Mexican carriers will soon join the 10 already approved. The agency, according to its website, said it “has notified an additional 37 Mexico-domiciled motor carriers that they have successfully passed a Pre-Authorization Safety Audit.”

The FMCSA says there are four U.S. carriers participating in the cross-border program.

Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., continues to show frustration with the Bush administration.

His spokesman, Joe Kasper, told WND, “Rather than working with Congress to ensure the program is implemented in a manner that is safe and efficient, the department has instead decided to continue its plan of opening our roadways to an increasing number of Mexican trucking companies.”

Kasper called it “a dangerous program that threatens our security and the safety of vehicle motorists.”

“It now appears the only way Congress can make the department listen is by ensuring it does not have the funds to move the program forward as currently planned,” he said.

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Michael Howe is a free-lance writer and radio talk show host who has covered political and legislative issues for several magazines. He resides in the Denver area where he serves on the faculty of Morgan Community College.

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