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LISTEN to Senator Murray question Secretary LaHood (Question starts at 34:30)

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, at a hearing of the Senate Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Subcommittee, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) strongly urged Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to solve the trade dispute with Mexico when the United States and Mexico meet for an official state visit later this month.  LaHood told Murray that the Administration continues to work on this issue, and they are “very close” to releasing a plan that would end the tariffs.

Murray had raised this with LaHood at a hearing last month, and today she asked him if the administration had made any progress toward resolving the issue since then. LaHood responded by saying that he understands the devastating effects of the tariffs, and the Administration has every intention of solving this problem as soon as possible.

Earlier this week, Murray spoke to the Mexican ambassador and urged him to end the tariffs that are hurting farmers and families in Washington state. Ambassador Arturo Sarukhan told Murray that President Mexican President Felipe Calderon’s planned on bringing this issue up during his upcoming visit to Washington, D.C.

Senator Murray’s question to Secretary LaHood:

“Mr. Secretary, I want to ask one last question about an issue I brought up with you the last time you were before this subcommittee: cross-border trucking with Mexico and the devastating effect of Mexican tariffs on Washington state farmers.

“Back in March, I urged you and the administration to move quickly to craft a plan to resume cross- border trucking with Mexico in a way that would address the safety concerns raised during the pilot and end the tariffs imposed by the Mexican government.  

“You told this subcommittee that a resolution would be forthcoming ‘soon.’

“Mr. Secretary—you should know that the effects of the Mexican tariffs have been absolutely devastating to farmers and families in my home state of Washington and across the country.  

“The tariffs undermine our farmers’ competitiveness—and they are killing jobs and devastating communities.

“In fact, in the two months since you last appeared before this subcommittee, the ConAgra potato processing plant in Prosser, Washington shut down—eliminating hundreds of good paying jobs.

“And if we don’t address this problem soon, this will just be the beginning- thousands more jobs in Washington state and across the country are in serious jeopardy of being shipped outside our borders.

“I sat down this week with the Mexican Ambassador to the United States because I wanted to make sure he knew how harmful his country’s tariffs were to families in Washington state.

“I told him that I feel very strongly that Washington state farmers and families shouldn’t be punished for a diplomatic dispute they had nothing to do with.

“And he told me that Mexico’s president planned on bringing this issue up in meetings with President Obama later this month.

“So my question is—what can you tell me about the Administration’s progress toward fixing this problem—and are you prepared to resolve this issue with Mexico during the state visit later this month?”