Capitol Hill echoed the blast of air horns today as hundreds of truckers convoyed into Washington, DC, to protest fuel prices that have more than doubled in the past three months.
More than 200 trucks, travelling under police escort, signaled their arrival on the Mall at the foot of the Capitol with long blasts. When the drivers parked and descended, they were met by scores of reporters and camera crews, on hand to cover the biggest truck event on Capitol Hill in more than a decade.
The message was simple: fuel prices are putting owner-operators out of business.
Tom Pokrywka, president of the National Owner-Operator Trucking Assn. and owner of a two-truck company, said he was there to send a message to the White House, Congress and the nation: “The trucking industry is in serious trouble and we need help.”
Pokrywka is pushing legislation that would create regional oil reserves that could be used to ease price spikes such as truckers are experiencing now.
Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, R-CO (pictured), said Congress should consider reducing federal excise taxes truckers pay, and President Clinton should open the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. In the long run, he said, the country has to reduce its dependence on foreign oil.
“Don’t give up the fight,” he urged the cheering crowd.Editor's Note: We'll have more coverage of the rally tomorrow from Editor At Large Bette Garber, who rode in the convoy from New Jersey. (Photo by Bette Garber.)