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Cornyn amendment would have established safety, security standards on Mexican trucks, cargo law for first time

Amendment to Transportation Bill would have protected Texans

From the Office of Senator John Cornyn

September 11, 2007

Government - Senator Cornyn pictureWASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, introduced an amendment to the Department of Transportation bill Tuesday evening to establish into federal law for the first time rigorous new safety standards and regular inspections for every Mexican truck crossing the border under a demonstration program. The Senate ultimately passed an amendment offered instead by Senator Byron Dorgan, D-ND, that would deny the program funding for one year.

“My amendment would have ensured that every single Mexican truck and operator entering the United States met every safety and identity requirement that U.S. trucks are required to meet. This amendment took concrete steps by imposing through federal law, tough mandates and real consequences if standards and rigorous inspections are not met,” Sen. Cornyn said. “In contrast, Sen. Dorgan’s amendment to cut-off funding for the next fiscal year was based on pure protectionism and simply does the bidding of the big union and labor organizations at the expense of American jobs. What’s worse, it did nothing to strengthen the safety of Mexican trucks.”

“The United States has a legal requirement to begin to allow Mexican commercial trucks to travel throughout the United States . Efforts to block these trucks have been overruled by the Supreme Court. Further, if the United States does not abide by its legal requirements, economic penalties can be leveled at U.S. businesses and exports, which will harm Texas jobs,” Sen. Cornyn added. “By passing the Dorgan amendment, the Senate has potentially put Texans’ future safety in danger and paved the way for economic sanctions that will hurt Texas jobs and economic growth. Since the Dorgan amendment delays funding for this program for the next fiscal year, I will continue to work with my colleagues to ensure that all trucks, no matter where they come from, are not a threat to the American traveling public.”


The Cornyn Amendment would, for the first time, make it U.S. law that every truck participating in the demonstration program be inspected every three months to the same standard as every U.S. truck. For the first time, every driver entering this country under the program would have to verify compliance with safety requirements, including the ability to speak English, every time they enter the United Sates.

Furthermore, the Department of Transportation’s Inspector General would be required to certify that the Department is, in fact, inspecting every truck and verifying every driver. If the Inspector General fails to certify such, then funding for this program would be automatically suspended.

Under this approach, for the first time Congress will statutorily enshrine the principle that DOT inspect and certify every Mexican truck that would enter the United States through the program. No longer would inspection be a matter of policy at the Department – it would an obligation and a duty under United States law. To ensure compliance, there is a trigger clause that automatically shuts down the program unless it can be certified by the Inspector General.

It’s worth noting that this is the first time in the history of the program that there would be an actual Congressional requirement for the Inspector General to certify the program. Previously, Congress has only required the IG to provide input on the program, and that the Department “address” any concerns raised. Under this provision, the course would be clear: no certification, no funding.

Furthermore, the Cornyn amendment would require the Administration to provide 60 days advanced notice to Congress should they wish to extend or otherwise continue the demonstration project. Such notice will give Congress ample time to consider the merits of the program as implemented, and what modifications they may wish to make.

Sen. Cornyn serves on the Armed Services, Judiciary and Budget Committees. In addition, he is Vice Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference and the Senate Select Committee on Ethics. He serves as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee’s Immigration, Border Security and Refugees subcommittee and the Armed Services Committee’s Airland subcommittee. He served previously as Texas Attorney General, Texas Supreme Court Justice, and Bexar County District Judge.

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