Mexican trucks decrease safety and security

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By Congressman Virgil Goode

The House of Representatives has voted to approve what is called the Omnibus Spending Bill. The vote was 253-to-154 to agree to a Senate amendment that added ten appropriations measures to the Foreign Operations bill. The amendment provides a total of $515 billion in spending, including over $32 billion for foreign aid. Although, some of the spending provisions included in the Omnibus are worthy, I voted ?No,? because, among other things, I cannot endorse sending $32 billion to foreign countries at a time when there are priorities here at home that need to be addressed, and when we have a deficit.

I was very disappointed in the Bush administration ignoring the clear will of Congress in allowing Mexican trucks to travel on the highways of the United States. You may remember that the House included an amendment in the Transportation Appropriations Bill last year that prohibits federal funds being used to implement the Mexican trucks pilot program in Fiscal Year 08. However, the Bush administration acted, based upon a technical reading. It is the administration?s position that it had started this pilot program prior to the action of Congress and therefore is able to continue it.

My opposition to Mexican trucks being able to roam the highways of the United States is longstanding. Under previous procedures, Mexican trucks had to unload in 20-mile commercial border zones when they reached the United States. The loads were then transferred to United States trucks. In my opinion, the old process was a deterrent to the smuggling of drugs, contraband and illegal aliens into this country. The new direct shipping in the United States decreases the safety and security of our nation. I do not want the Mexican trucks on our highways. To that end, I have introduced H. Con. Res. 146, expressing the sense of Congress that the Secretary of Transportation may not grant authority to Mexico-domiciled motor carriers to operate beyond the commercial zones of the U. S.-Mexico Border.

Thanks to the hard work by the economic developers in Southside, our unemployment picture is getting better. However, there is much work to be done. To boost workforce development in our area, the regional Workforce Investment Board, under the leadership of Kim Atkins, and Laurie Moran, the Executive Director of the Danville-Pittsylvania County Chamber of Commerce, have put together a team to develop an application for a planning grant from the U. S. Department of Labor (DOL). It is hoped that this planning grant will enable our region to develop a solid case for securing additional grant funds from DOL. The additional funds would be used to implement more workforce training programs to support existing firms and the companies that are locating in our region. What is particularly important about this effort is that it is being done in a spirit of unified regional cooperation. This helps our team make an even stronger case for investment of federal funds by DOL. I am glad to work with this team and to support its application for the DOL grants.

Please keep in touch with me on issues that are important to you. You may write Congressman Virgil Goode, 70 East Court Street, Room 215, Rocky Mount, VA 24151; or fax to 1-540-484-1459; or call toll-free to the Danville office, 1-800-535-4008.