Congress could act quickly to block a new Bush administration pilot program allowing long-haul Mexican trucks to operate anywhere in the United States, a U.S. senator said on Monday.
"My hope is the Senate will do as the House as done and we will put the brakes on the pilot program," Sen. Byron Dorgan, a North Dakota Democrat, told reporters.
Dorgan offered an amendment denying funding for the one-year program, which was begun late last week. The House of Representatives passed similar legislation overwhelmingly in July.
The Senate could vote on Dorgan's amendment today.
"[This is] the sixth anniversary of the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil," Hoffa said. "I don't see how any patriotic American could vote to allow these dangerous trucks to cross our borders and travel freely throughout our country.
"We don't know who's driving these trucks and we don't know what they're carrying," Hoffa said. "Weapons that could be used in a terrorist attack might be in the backs of these trucks."
According to news reports, the first Mexican truck allowed beyond the safety zone crossed the border at Laredo at 12:51 a.m. Saturday. The truck traveled through Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and South Carolina to North Carolina, where it was to deliver a load of steel.
"Haven't the people of North Carolina suffered enough from the effects of free trade agreements?" Hoffa said. "To be the first state to receive a delivery directly from Mexico just adds a whole lot of insult to a whole lot of injury."
The Transportation Department's inspector general reported last week that five states said they aren't ready to enforce safety rules for the pilot project. Those five states are Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, Rhode Island and Utah, while Maryland did not respond.
The inspector general also reported that seven states don't have procedures in place for enforcing restrictions on point-to-point deliveries within the United States, a practice known as cabotage. Those are the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, New Mexico, Utah and Washington.