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POLITICAL ACTION

July 25, 2002  

DOT Claims Border Could Open By End of Summer

Secretary Norm Mineta and the Department of Transportations (DOT) Inspector General (IG) testified at a joint hearing in the U.S. Senate on June 27 and reported that the President could lift the moratorium on Mexican trucks operating throughout the United States sometime within the next 60 days.

But problems still remain. The IG, who issued a report the same day on the status of the Administrations compliance with the Murray-Shelby safety requirements, reported:

  • Only two states, California and Arizona, have enacted legislation authorizing their enforcement personnel to take action when they encounter a vehicle operating in the U.S. without DOT authority. The other States enforcement personnel cannot enforce the violation. Combine this with the fact that in 1999 the IG reported that at least 52 Mexican-domiciled motor carriers operated illegally in 20 States beyond the four border States. The IGfor the third timeconfirmed at the June 27 hearing, Roadside inspection data throughout the United States show this has continued.
  • The concern here is that carriers without authority to operate anywhere in the United States or those that have authority only to operate within the commercial zones will continue to operate beyond the zonesillegally.
  • Six of the 25 commercial border crossings could not access Mexican and U.S. databases to verify information on Mexican carriers. At 3 crossings, telephone lines were not installed. At 2 crossings, there were no inspectors and inspection facilities had not been secured.
  • Only 1 of the 17 mobile enforcement units could access insurance and operating authority data and none could access license tag information.
  • To make matters worse, only inspectors at the border crossings and mobile enforcement units near the border can tap into Mexicos databases. The state trooper or local sheriff in your home state doesnt have access to that information. Hes expected to call an 800 number to access this information, and to check if a Mexican driver has insurance or proper operating authority.
  • The U.S. cannot verify that Mexicos new hours-of-service policy is implemented until Mexican long-haul carriers are granted beyond-commercial-zone operating authority. This means that somehow magically Mexican drivers will follow hours-of-service rules when they know that they will be entering the U.S. Their driving culture suggests otherwise. The IGs own report shows that 1,562 Mexican drivers were placed out-of-service in FY 2001 and 621 in the first 7 months of FY 2002 for driver log violations, such as not having a driver log.

Committee Votes to Subsidize the Exportation of U.S. Jobs

Next week, the House Ways and Means Committee will consider whether to approve legislation that would penalize U.S. companies that keep jobs here in the United States and reward U.S. companies that move jobs overseas. Representative Bill Thomas (R-CA), who also authored the Fast Track trade bill, introduced the so-called American Competitiveness and Corporate Accountability Act, or H.R. 5095.

H.R. 5095 would repeal the Foreign Sales Corporation and the Extraterritorial Income tax provisions that currently promote U.S. exports and replace them with $90 billion worth of new corporate tax cutsprimarily for companies that produce goods overseas. This is being done because the European Union challenged the FSC/ETI tax provisions as illegal export subsidies at the World Trade Organizationand won! But changes to the provisions should promote U.S. manufacturing jobs not reward companies that ship our jobs overseas.

Call to action: Four Members of Congress have signed onto the bill in support of it: Amo Houghton (R-NY), Nancy Johnson (R-CT), Jim McCrery (R-LA), and Scott McInnis (R-CO). If your local is in their districts, please call and ask them to remove their name from the cosponsor list. Also, please call the following Members of Congress, who serve on the Ways and Means Committee, and urge them to vote NO on the bill when the committee considers it next week.

Becerra (D-CA)
Cardin (D-MD)
English (R-PA)
Jefferson (D-LA)
J. Lewis (D-GA)
McNulty (D-NY)
Pomeroy (D-ND)
Portman (R-OH)
P. Ryan (R-WI)
Shaw (R-FL)
Tanner (D-TN)
Weller (R-IL)

Quote of the Week: Thats what free trade is all about. Rep. David Dreier (R-CA) in response to the following statement from Rep. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) during a July 16 debate: Let me just say a word about the economy. Many of these large corporations that youre talking about have transported hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of jobs to China, to Mexico, to many desperate countries.

July 11, 2002  

Fast Track Bill Set to
Go to Conference

Just prior to the July 4 recess, the U.S. House narrowly approved a motion to go to conference to reconcile the House and Senate versions of the Fast Track trade bill (H.R. 3009). The motion, which passed on a 216-215 vote, capped several weeks of controversy over the House Republican leaderships effort to undercut the conference committees ability to adopt Senate provisions on trade adjustment assistance (TAA) and protection of U.S. anti-dumping laws. The Senate is expected to approve its own motion to go to conference sometime within the next week or two.

Motions to go to conference, even on controversial bills, are considered procedural and normally pass by large margins. In this case, however, the motion to go to conference consisted of an essentially new 190-page fast track bill intended by Republican leadership to give them leverage in negotiations with the Senate on the final fast track trade package.

Specifically, the House motion provides for a means-tested tax credit to cover no more than 60 percent of the cost of continued healthcare coverage for workers dislocated by trade, who make no more than $25,000 per year. This tax credit would not be restricted to COBRA benefits, but could be used in the individual market. The Senate-passed bill, by contrast, provides a 70 percent COBRA subsidy, with no economic restrictions. The Teamsters Union has long argued that laid-off workers will be unable to find decent affordable heath insurance coverage in the private market, and that a 60 percenteven a 70 percentsubsidy is not enough to help laid-off workers who are struggling to make ends meet with a healthcare premium that averages $700 a month.

In some ways, the closeness of this vote was a victory in our campaign to defeat Fast Track: the manner in which House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas (R-CA) pushed this motion through the House ended up alienating 10 Democrats who had voted for Fast Track last year, but voted with us this time around! Now the White House and Big Business can no longer count on their support for Fast Track!

A select number of House and Senate members will now meet in a conference committee to iron out the differences between the two versions of Fast Track. They hope to complete their work by the end of July and produce a bill that can attract a majority of votes in the House. A small group of Democrats and Republicans will decide the outcome of the final vote on Fast Track, which we expect will occur sometime this fall. Please contact the following House members toll-free at (877) 611-0063 and urge them to vote NO on fast track when the final trade package is considered.

Aderholt (R-AL)
Bentsen (D-TX)
Berry (D-AR)
Boswell (D-IA)
Capito (R-WV)
Coble (R-NC)
S. Davis (D-CA)
Duncan (R-TN)
Eshoo (D-CA)
Ford (D-TN)
Gilman (R-NY)
Gonzales (D-TX)
Harman (D-CA)
Hart (R-PA)
Hoekstra (R-MI)
Hostettler (R-IN)
Hunter (R-CA)
Inslee (D-WA)
E.B. Johnson (D-TX)
Kind (D-WI)
Larsen (D-WA)
LaTourette (R-OH)
LoBiondo (R-NJ)
McHugh (R-NY)
Ney (R-OH)
Norwood (R-GA)
Paul (R-TX)
Putnam (R-FL)
Quinn (R-NY)
Regula (R-OH)
Rehberg (R-MT)
Hal Rogers (R-KY)
Mike Rogers (R-MI)
Rohrabacher (R-CA)
Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL)
Simmons (R-CT)
Adam Smith (D-WA)
Chris Smith (R-NJ)
Stearns (R-FL)
Taylor (R-NC)
Tauscher (D-CA)
Walsh (R-NY)
Joe Wilson (R-SC)
Wu (D-OR)
Weldon (R-PA)
Don Young (R-AK)