Thursday, July 10, 2008

So DOT, you wanna play word games?

Word games and politics seem to go hand-in-hand anymore.

It’s become one of the favorite pastimes it seems since Bill Clinton uttered the words: “It all depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.”

It’s frustrating, to say the least, to watch politicians bat around the meaning of words, trying to twist and turn them to their advantage.

The most recent word game haunting the trucking industry is the Department of Transportation’s attempt to keep the Mexican cross-border program going.

The program is still going on because the DOT’s crack legal team played word games with an amendment written by Sen. Byron Dorgan that cut off funding to the program. The legal eagles took the most narrow interpretation of the word “establish.”

The DOT attorneys contend that since the program was already going before the legislation cutting off the funding was approved, the program was “established” and the legislation was meaningless.

Dorgan wasn’t happy at all at this shenanigan. Hearings were held. Letters were fired off. But the DOT just kept right on moving. A court is sorting out that mess now.

Obviously Dorgan doesn’t easily forget, and it’s time for another transportation appropriations bill.

Guess what – Dorgan has another amendment in there that could cut off funding to the program if it’s signed into law. Only this time, if the DOT wants to play word games, they’re going to have their hands full.

Dorgan’s amendment says the DOT will not spend money to:

• establish,

• implement,

• continue,

• promote,

• or in any way permit a cross-border program.

Oh yeah, the end of the amendment also tells the DOT that if there is a program currently ongoing, it’s over, too.

Given the lengths that Congress is having to go to to put an end to this program makes me appreciate my ability as a mother to end debates like this. All I have to do is say: “Because I said so.”

Come to think of it, maybe that’s just what Dorgan was thinking when he wrote the amendment this time.