A constitutional crisis is developing between Congress and the Department of Transportation over the federal government’s decision to continue its project allowing Mexican trucks on U.S. roads, in defiance of new legislation.

“The DOT response is both arrogant and wrong!” Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., wrote in a letter yesterday to Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters.

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration officials told the San Diego Union Tribune the cross-border Mexican truck demonstration project would continue because the program was established in September and the amendment allows programs that have already begun to continue.

But Dorgan insisted a provision in the 2008 omnibus spending bill was “clearly written and designed to put the brakes on the current pilot program.”

“Failure to end the pilot program, I believe, will put the Department of Transportation in direct violation of federal law,” the senator charged.

As WND reported in September, the amendment championed by Dorgan to remove funding for the project from the 2008 DOT appropriations bill passed the Senate by a bipartisan majority of 74-24.

The amendment survived into the Consolidated Appropriations Act which President Bush signed Dec. 26.

WND left a message with Melissa DeLaney, a spokeswoman for the FMCSA, asking for comment but received no reply.

Polly W. Craighill, legislative counsel to the Senate, wrote a formal letter to Dorgan, at the senator’s request, arguing the clear legislative intent of his amendment was clear.

“No funds made available under the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008 were to be used in fiscal year 2008 to establish or implement 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,” Craighill wrote to Dorgan Dec. 28.

Craighill further expressed an opinion that the legislative history in the Senate established clearly the purpose was to preclude the carrying out of any demonstration program, including the pilot program put into effect in September.

“DOT is showing a blatant disregard for U.S. laws,” Todd Spencer, executive vice president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, or OOIDA, told WND in a phone interview.

“The Bush administration is showing itself to be a rogue administration,” Spencer said. “I understand the need to reduce the size of government, but I didn’t realize it could involve doing away with the entire legislative branch.

“It’s outrageous and hypocritical for the Bush administration to be preaching democracy around the world, while blowing off democracy at home,” he added.

The Teamsters expressed outrage as well.

“The Bush administration should enforce the law, not break it,” Leslie Miller, communications coordinator for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters told WND in a telephone interview.

Both OOIDA and the Teamsters have launched federal law suits aimed at blocking the continuance of the Mexican truck project.

The FMCSA website currently lists 11 Mexican trucking companies that remain authorized to cross the border with their long-haul rigs and operate anywhere in the U.S.

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