WASHINGTON (AP) Dismissing a White House veto threat, the House voted Tuesday to end a pilot program giving Mexican trucks access to U.S. highways.
The Bush administration stressed that the United States is obligated, under the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement, to open up American roads to Mexican truckers, and that terminating the year-old demonstration project would have repercussions for American trucks allowed into Mexico. Passage of the House bill, it said "would pose significant and immediate risks to U.S. interests."
But the pilot project, which permits up to 500 trucks from 100 Mexican companies access to U.S. roads, is opposed by trucking, consumer and environmental groups who say it would eliminate American jobs and that Mexican trucks are subject to less stringent safety regulations. They say Mexico lacks adequate drug testing and hours-of-service standards and that the program could contribute to smuggling or insurance fraud.
The 395-18 House vote was well above the two-thirds needed to override a presidential veto. The bill would end the authority of the administration to go forward with the program without congressional approval. The Senate Appropriations Committee has attached similar language to a transportation spending bill, although that bill is unlikely to be enacted before President Bush leaves office.