As Congress reconvenes from its Thanksgiving vacation, a controversial bill dealing with Mexican trucks will again be the topic of debate.
Senators from two border states are threatening a filibuster of a transportation appropriations conference bill if it imposes restrictions on Mexican trucking they believe violate the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Earlier this year, the Senate passed a bill calling for strict safety standards for Mexican trucking companies that want to take advantage of NAFTA provisions allowing Mexican trucks beyond the narrow commercial zone. The House passed a bill withholding funding from the Department of Transportation for processing Mexican trucking company applications, effectively keeping Mexican trucks out of the country. A conference committee must work out these and other differences between the two bills.
According to published reports, Sens. Phil Gramm, R-Texas, and John McCain, R-Ariz., rejected a compromise offered by Sens. Patty Murray, D-Ore., and Richard Shelby, R-Ala. Murray and Shelby were the proponents of the strict Senate bill language, and reportedly offered a compromise to try to avoid a threatened veto by President Bush.
“We are disappointed that the Senate conferees on the transportation appropriations bill seem determined to defy the president on the issue of Mexican trucks and violate our NAFTA commitments,” says a statement released by Gramm and McCain.
Complicating the issue is the possibility that as it tries to finish the budget process, Congress could combine the remaining budget bills into one omnibus bill, which could make it harder for Bush to wield his veto power.