Trade, Trucks, Remedies and Countermeasures

By September 10, 2008Infrastructure, Trade

Hoffa: Congress wants the border closed.

As noted immediately below, the House yesterday voted 395-18 to pass H.R. 6630, the bill that renege on U.S. NAFTA commitments by blocking the operation of Mexican trucks in the United States. The floor debate featured no one speaking in opposition, contained a lot of aggressive criticism of the Bush administration and DOT and eventually deteriorated in a partisan dispute over energy policy. In other words, there wasn’t really a debate per se, but rather a series of statements.

Some would dispute our characterization of the bill, acknowledged. From Rep. John Duncan (R-TN), who managed the bill for the Republicans:

Now, let me say once again: this is a very moderate, sensible, balanced, and reasonable bill. It does not prohibit some sort of program for Mexican trucking companies that are safe and don’t have all these violations. It would allow them to come in after additional information is given to the Congress about the results from this 1-year demonstration project. That’s not much to ask for from the administration, and we need that information about safety violations.

We need to find out whether these Mexican truck drivers have drug addictions or they have numerous safety violations, find out whether some of these trucking companies are coming in, these trucks are coming in here in a very unsafe and uninsured condition.

OK. But organized labor, which drove the debate during a campaign year, has never been a big supporter of moderate, sensible, balanced and reasonable. The Teamsters issued a statement applauding the clear effect of the legislation, with President Jim Hoffa declaring: “This bill makes it very clear that Congress wants the border closed. This time, the Bush administration can’t pretend it doesn’t understand what Congress means.”

That is, Hoffa sees this as a victory in a battle in the great trade war. And the Mexicans see a defeat, but they also note they have the ability to exact consequences. From Reuters:

Still, the Mexican Embassy in Washington said it was “deeply concerned” about the House vote and welcomed the administration’s intention to veto the measure.

“Mexico has fulfilled its NAFTA obligations and expects the U.S. do the same. Should the bill be enacted into law, the government of Mexico will consider taking all the appropriate actions, including remedies or countermeasures under the North American Free Trade Agreement,” the embassy statement said.


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