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The Bush administration is going ahead with a controversial pilot program giving Mexican trucks greater access to U.S. highways despite a new law by Congress against it.
The decision to proceed with the four-month-old program, which allows participating Mexican trucking companies to send loads throughout the United States, comes despite language in the recently signed catchall spending bill aimed at blocking it.
The provision, as signed by President Bush last month, says: "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."
Congressional opponents of the programs insist that it's clear what lawmakers were trying to do last year when both House and Senate voted against allowing the program to go forward.
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"They know what the law says," retorted Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., who won a 74-24 vote to block the program. "And they're not above the law." Dorgan warned they better follow the law.
But the Department of Transportation is taking advantage of a loophole in the new law, which prohibits the government from spending any money to "ESTABLISH" the program. The government says the new rules don't apply to the current program since it was started in September.
"The U.S. Department of Transportation will not establish any new demonstration programs with Mexico," said Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration spokeswoman Melissa Mazzella DeLaney. "The current cross-border trucking demonstration project - established in September - will continue to operate in a manner that puts safety first."