WASHINGTON The White House said on Monday it is working to create a new cross-border, long-distance trucking program between Mexico and the United States after the previous program was killed in the 2009 appropriations bill.
Spokesman Robert Gibbs told a briefing the White House wanted to work with lawmakers, Mexican officials and the U.S. trade representative to come up with a new trucking scheme after Mexico announced its intent to impose retaliatory tariffs on U.S. exports.
In signing the North American Free Trade Agreement, the United States agreed to allow Mexican trucks to travel on U.S. highways beginning in 1995. Under a pilot program, a limited number of Mexican trucks were being allowed to drive beyond a zone near the U.S. border.
The recently passed legislation to fund most U.S. government operations through the rest of the 2009 fiscal year included an amendment by Senator Byron Dorgan to kill the trucking program.
That prompted the response by Mexico, which is allowed to retaliate under NAFTA.
"Congress has opposed the (trucking) project in the past because of concerns about the process that led to the program's establishment and its operation," Gibbs told a briefing.
"The president has tasked the Department of Transportation to work with the U.S. trade representative and the Department of State, along with leaders in Congress and Mexican officials to propose legislation creating a new trucking project that will meet the legitimate concerns of Congress and our NAFTA commitments," he said.
Gibbs said Dorgan had written the White House to "express his willingness to work with the administration in good faith to address this issue."