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(Washington, D.C.) –U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) included language in the Fiscal Year 2011 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations bill that calls on the Administration to put forward a plan that would end retaliatory tariffs on Washington state agricultural products by October 1, 2010. The bill passed the THUD subcommittee, which Murray chairs, as well as the full Appropriations committee, and will now head to the full Senate for consideration.

“I am extremely frustrated that the Administration has not yet acted while farmers across my home state of Washington continue to suffer under Mexico’s retaliatory tariffs,” said Senator Patty Murray. “I am urging both the Obama Administration and the Mexican government to solve this issue and allow Washington state farmers to compete on a level playing field. Since there has been inaction for too long, I included specific language in the transportation spending bill giving the Administration a clear deadline of October 1, 2010 to solve this problem.”

Excerpt from the THUD report language (full text below):

“It is essential for the administration to establish a plan to resume cross-border trucking with Mexico in a way that addresses the safety concerns raised during the Department of Transportation’s earlier pilot and end the retaliatory tariffs imposed by the Mexican Government…The Committee directs the Secretary of Transportation, in coordination with the Ambassador of the United States Trade Representative, no later than October 1, 2010, to establish and report on a proposal to implement a cross-border trucking program that maintains the safety of our roads and highways, enhances the efficient movement of commerce, and eliminates harmful and retaliatory tariffs on agricultural products.”

On May 28, Murray sent a letter to President Barack Obama urging him move forward with a plan to end Mexican tariffs that have had a devastating impact on the Washington state agricultural industry. Murray sent the letter after President Obama met with Mexican President Felipe Calderon. During the meeting, the two presidents discussed the tariffs Mexico has placed on U.S. products. Mexico has targeted eighty-seven Washington state products in this dispute and hundreds of jobs have been lost.

Prior to the meeting between President Obama and Mexican President Calderon, Senator Murray sent a President a letter urging him to use the meeting as an opportunity to work to end Mexican tariffs that have had a devastating impact on the Washington state farmers and families.  She has also spoken with senior White House officials to reemphasize that point.

On May 4, Senator Murray met with the Mexican Ambassador to the United States Arturo Sarukhan to discuss the impact of Mexican tariffs on Washington state families, jobs, and agriculture industry. Murray urged the Mexican government to end the retaliatory tariffs that are harming Washington state families, and to use Mexican President Felipe Calderon’s upcoming visit to Washington, D.C. as an opportunity to resolve the differences.

In early March, at a hearing of the Senate Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Subcommittee, Senator Murray pushed Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to move faster on a plan to resume cross-border trucking with Mexico, urging him to resolve the situation to save American jobs while ensuring the safety of the public at large.

And last October, Senator Murray hosted a meeting between Washington state farmers and Deputy Secretary of Transportation John Porcari to make sure he understood the local impact of the retaliatory tariffs.

The full text of the language Senator Murray included in the THUD appropriation bill is below:

Administrative Provision-Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

Section 135 subjects the funds in this act to section 350 of Public Law 107-87 in order to ensure the safety of all cross-border long haul operations conducted by Mexican-domiciled commercial carriers.

It is essential for the administration to establish a plan to resume cross-border trucking with Mexico in a way that addresses the safety concerns raised during the Department of Transportation’s earlier pilot and end the retaliatory tariffs imposed by the Mexican Government. The tariffs were imposed on more than 90 U.S. products, a burden that undermines the competitiveness of many agricultural products produced in the United States. If the administration is unable to find a path forward with Mexico on this issue, these tariffs will continue to send American jobs to other countries, such as Canada, as growers, processors, and packers are forced to relocate. Such relocation threatens the livelihood of many American workers and further exacerbates the economic recession in communities across the Nation. Continued delays in rectifying this trade issue are unacceptable. The Committee directs the Secretary of Transportation, in coordination with the Ambassador of the United States Trade Representative, no later than October 1, 2010, to establish and report on a proposal to implement a cross-border trucking program that maintains the safety of our roads and highways, enhances the efficient movement of commerce, and eliminates harmful and retaliatory tariffs on agricultural products.

Additionally, the North American Free Trade Agreement requires that the United States and Mexico provide operating authority and reciprocal treatment for bus companies to provide domestic, intercity bus service and cross-border services. Mexico has refused to grant United States owned bus companies comparable rights in Mexico, thus making it impossible for United States bus companies to compete with Mexican bus companies for cross-border traffic. Congress gave the President or his delegate the statutory authority (49 U.S.C. 13902 ©) to suspend or restrict the U.S. operations of passenger motor carriers owned by companies of a contiguous country which unreasonably restricts the operations of U.S.-owned companies. Since those circumstances exist now, the Committee believes that the President or his delegate should consider utilizing that authority unless Mexico immediately starts to provide reciprocal access and fair treatment to United States owned bus companies. The discrimination against U.S. bus companies cannot continue. The Committee directs the Secretary of Transportation, in coordination with the Ambassador of the United States Trade Representative, to report to the House and Senate Committee on Appropriations no later than October 1, 2010 on what actions the Department or other executive agencies are taking to rectify this issue.