The United States Congress and the Bush administration have reached a deal on tough safety criteria that Mexican long-haul truckers must meet to operate their rigs across the United States, according to the Reuters news agency.
This deal ended months of wrangling between Capitol Hill and the White House over the issue, which held up final passage of a $60-billion transportation spending bill and drew a veto threat from President George W Bush.
Provisions allowing Mexican trucks full access to US highways largely reflected conditions approved by the Senate. The House voted for an outright ban on expanded access.
The White House had threatened to veto the sweeping appropriations bill, which funds major air, road, and rail programs, if it contained either the Senate or House language on trucking.
Mexican trucks currently are limited to a narrow commercial zone in US border states, where they transfer their goods to American carriers.
Proponents of fully opening the border to Mexican trucks hoped to do so by January 2002, but Congress will leave the time frame open, giving the administration flexibility to carry out the safety mandates, a Senate aide said.
The legislation requiresx:
Electronic verification of the license of every Mexican truck driver crossing the border with high-risk cargo and verification of at least half of all other Mexican truckers every time they cross.
On-site inspection of Mexican trucking companies before their rigs are allowed full access to American highways and reinspection every 90 days.
Safety examinations of the companies before they get conditional authority to operate in the United States. The checks will verify that each company has a drug and alcohol testing program, proof of insurance, and operators with clean driving records.
A prohibition on operations in the United States until the Transportation Department's inspector general audits the US government's ability to enforce the safety standards.