If you’re around gospel music much, you’ve probably heard the song “Soon and Very Soon.”
It’s usually sung ballad-style with frequent repetition of the words “Soon and very soon we are going to see the King. Hallelujah.”
Apparently last March, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood liked the “Soon and Very Soon” melody, but to illustrate the DOT’s progress is coming up with a solution to the Mexico truck controversy, he came up with new lyrics.
They go something like this: “Soon and very soon we are going to see a plan. Hallelujah.”
On two occasions during Senate hearings, he serenaded Washington Sen. Patty Murray with his new song.
Late last month, word came to us from reliable sources that LaHood finally did have a firm proposal in hand, but was going to wait until after the election to chat with Congressmen about the direction he wanted to take in meeting the United States’ obligations to Mexico under the North American Free Trade Agreement.
We do know one thing: the Mexican government is in no mood for another pilot project.
“If you put in place a demonstration project similar to what we had, it can begin, but it can be defunded at any time,” said Jose Luis Paz Vega. The head of trade at the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) office in the Mexican embassy in Washington, he made the comments at a luncheon Oct. 15. “Mexico is not willing to take that any more,” he added. “We need a program that is permanent, that has certainty and complies with NAFTA. And we’re not willing to accept anything less than that.”
But is Congress in any mood to deal with the Mexican truck issue at this point?
Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., and Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., have done virtually everything but create their own personal blockade at the border to keep Mexican trucks out of the U.S.
The Teamsters Union, a strong supporter of the Obama administration, is bitterly opposed to an open border.
More importantly, the new Congress will have more pressing issues and the country could well face legislative gridlock if the Republican Party gains control in the House and/or Senate.
First of all, the economy is still shaky and that means jobs, which will be all important to the White House as the president begins his race to keep his own job in 2012.
Economic woes contribute to “protectionist” attitudes on Capitol Hill.
It’s also important to remember that while most Americans would like to see friendly relations with Mexico, there’s still voter anger over illegal immigration and there’s a good chance any Mexican truck proposal could get swept up in that anger.
Legislators typically like to shy away from voter anger.
Then there’s the issue of health care reform.
Many Republicans are banking of promises of reforming healthcare to punch their ticket to Washington.
If a new proposal does make it through Congress, we wonder if safety restrictions on Mexican trucks will be so stringent that Mexican motor carriers will want to participate.
Dorgan’s and DeFazio’s primary squabble with the pilot program was safety.
Here’s what DeFazio said in 2008 when he was spearheading an effort to defund the project:
“DOT needs to look at how much this pilot has cost and the impact it has had on overall motor carrier safety. This administration has been hell-bent on opening up our border but over the past year has failed to show they can adequately inspect Mexican carriers while also maintaining a robust U.S. safety inspection program.”
However, there was not a single accident involving a Mexican truck during the pilot program.
So here we sit and wait to see what LaHood has to offer.
Hopefully, it will come soon, and very soon.
Lyndon Finney of The Trucker staff can be reached for comment at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Find more news and analysis from The Trucker, and share your thoughts, on Facebook.