Public Citizen Policy analyst Catherine Kauffman submitted this post as a guest blogger for The Hill.

A new year normally is a time to start fresh, to resolve to develop good habits and to remedy problems leftover from the year past. For the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), however, the arrival of 2008 and its accompanying appropriations budget proved to be just the opposite -- a time to even further entrench its troublesome, dangerous (and now prohibited by Congress) NAFTA trucks demonstration pilot project.

The NAFTA trucks pilot project currently allows 12 Mexico-domiciled carriers and 57 total trucks full access to U.S. roads. Congress, in strong showings of bipartisan support, had multiple times in 2007 denounced the program as dangerous and lacking sufficient measures to ensure safety. Congress included a provision banning funds appropriated to the Department of Transportation from being used to further establish the program in the omnibus appropriations bill passed last month.

Yet only hours passed after President Bush signed the appropriations bill into law before FMCSA announced it own interpretation of the seemingly clear provision. The pilot program, which kicked off in the dark of night in September 2007, would continue despite the law and the clear intent of Congress.  FMCSA told reporters that the law bars only the “establishment