WASHINGTON – Mexican trucks traveling on U.S. roads will have to meet tough safety standards agreed to in a compromise between congressional and White House negotiators Wednesday.
The House voted 371-11 Friday for a $59.6 billion transportation spending bill that contains the language on Mexican truck safety. The Senate is expected to approve the bill next week.
Under the agreement, U.S. safety officials will inspect half of all Mexican lorries at border crossings where four or more trucks pass each day.
Border agents will have to electronically verify the licenses of drivers of all Mexican trucks carrying hazardous materials, and half of all other Mexican truck drivers. Within a year, truck scales will have to be installed at the 10 busiest border crossings.
"The compromise reached by the House and Senate appropriators on Mexican trucking is an important victory for safety and free trade. We must promote the highest level of safety and security on American highways while meeting our commitments to our friends to the South," Bush said in a written statement.
The House voted in June to prevent the trucks from driving across the United States. In August, the Senate voted to allow Mexican trucks that passed an array of inspection, insurance and other standards.
The deal defused a critical confrontation in which Bush threatened to veto tighter restrictions that would have prevented Mexican trucks from driving anywhere in the United States. Unions and safety groups were lobbying for blocking the trucks, while business groups wanted to allow their entry.
Bush initially proposed letting Mexican vehicles into the United States while their companies were audited over 18 months.
The transportation package, $1.5 billion more than last year's bill, boosts spending for many highway, aviation and mass transit programs, as well as for the Coast Guard.
It also provides funding for an array of pet projects in congressional districts, including $20 million for a parking garage in Charleston, S.C., and $70 million for a light rail system extension in Dallas.
The measure would also require Washington, D.C., area transit officials to alter signs and maps to have the correct name of the local airport. The airport's name was recently changed to Reagan Washington National Airport.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.