U.S. Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (OH-9), who recently
received a 100 percent rating from the National Hispanic
Leadership Agenda (NHLA) for the first and second sessions of the
pictured at Latino Scholarship Day with the Toledo Mud Hens, July
17, and in her Toledo office (L-R).
House approves CAFTA, Michigan and Ohio
Democrats blast it as bad deal
Associated Press Writer
(AP): The U.S. House narrowly approved the Central American Free
Trade Agreement (CAFTA) early Thursday, a personal triumph for
President George W. Bush, who campaigned aggressively for the
accord he said would foster prosperity and democracy in the
and Ohio Democrats criticized the decision.
217-215 vote just after
adds six Latin American countries to the growing lists of nations
with free trade agreements with the
and averts what could have been a major political embarrassment
for the Bush administration.
It was an uphill effort to win a majority, with Bush traveling to
Capitol Hill earlier in the day to appeal to wavering Republicans
to support a deal he said was critical to U.S. national security.
vote, supposed to take 15 minutes, dragged on for an hour as
negotiations swirled around the floor among GOP leaders and
rank-and-file members reluctant to vote for the agreement. In the
end, 27 Republicans voted against CAFTA, while 15 Democrats
Lobbying continued right up to the vote, with Vice President Dick
Cheney, U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman, and Commerce
Secretary Carlos Gutiérrez tracking undecided lawmakers.
and Ohio Democrats said the treaty would hurt U.S.
workers and farmers.
you thought outsourcing was bad before, what can we look forward
to now that the Republicans have opened the flood gates sending
many good American jobs south?” asked Rep. John Dingell of
Dearborn. “CAFTA will just bring more of the pain that American
working families have experienced since the passage of NAFTA (the
North American Free Trade Agreement).”
sugarbeet farmers in
will be forced off their farms as the price of sugar
plummets,’’ said Rep. Bart Stupak of Menominee.
“Hourly workers at sugar refineries will find their jobs
outsourced to other countries.
is unfair trade at its finest. It is unfair to workers—both at
home and in
Boehner (OH-8), Gillmor (OH-5), Hobson (OH-7), Oxley (OH-4), Pryce
(OH-15), Regula (OH-16), Chabot (OH-1), LaTourette (OH-14), Tiberi
(OH-12), and Turner (OH-3). NOES: Ney (OH-18), Brown (OH-13), Jones (OH-11), Kaptur (OH-9),
Kucinich (OH-10), Ryan (OH-17), and Strickland (OH-6).
Kaptur issues statement
Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (OH-9), a Democrat who has seen
the ill effects of NAFTA, agreed with Dingell.
the leaders of this Congress have rammed through a lopsided trade
deal, by the thinnest margin of 2 votes, with a final tally after
will be another job-killing trade agreement the American people
don’t want. The clock was held open for more than an hour as arm
twisting and deal making swept across the floor of Congress.
efforts of those who fought against this deal were noble.They upheld the enduring ideals of liberty for all people,
and the hope of rising living standards with decent working and
environmental conditions,” said Kaptur.
resolve contributed to strengthening the broad public support that
grows each year for changing these flawed agreements.The American people know Congress is selling out their
interests and middle class living standards.It is just some in this Congress who still choose to dance
to different drummers.
cause of achieving free trade among free people is long,
difficult, and worthy, indeed the most compelling economic
struggle of our time.Advocates
for change are gaining ground.Compared to the vote a decade ago on NAFTA, which
carried by a margin of only thirty-four votes, this vote was even
more razor thin.It
barely crawled across the finish line.Those that sought to quash our voices failed and the
worthiness of our cause forced them to work hard for every vote
they eked out.The
toe-to-toe nature of this battle, as NAFTA before it, shows the
moral ground on which we stand is firm.
American people stand with us as we struggle forward to place the
highest principles of a free people in these trade accords.Onward to the future with our cause that will not rest
until justice to all people, not just the global economic giants,
recently received a 100 percent rating from the National
Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA) for the first and second
sessions of the 108thCongress.The NHLA compiled the legislative scorecard to inform
Latinos about Senators and Members of Congress’s record on
issues of importance to Latino communities.
Velásquez, president of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC),
has also been opposed to such a NAFTA-extension with DR-CAFTA.
, Nancy Pelosi, U.S. Democratic Leader, stated, “I oppose
CAFTA because it is a step backward for workers in
and it is a job killer.” The Congressional Hispanic Caucus
Bush hails vote
hailed the vote. “CAFTA helps ensure that free trade is fair
trade,” he said in a statement issued by the White House. “By
lowering trade barriers to American goods in Central American
markets to a level now enjoyed by their goods in the U.S., this
agreement will level the playing field and help American workers,
farmers and small businesses.’’
United States signed the accord, known as CAFTA, a year ago with
Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and the
Dominican Republic, and the Senate approved it last month, 56-44
[S-1307]. It now goes to Bush for his signature.
capture a majority, supporters had to overcome what some have
called free trade fatigue, a growing sentiment that free trade
deals such as NAFTA have contributed to a loss of well-paying
jobs and the soaring trade deficit.
who were overwhelmingly against CAFTA, also argued that its labor
rights provisions were weak and would result in exploitation of
supporters said that CAFTA would over time eliminate tariffs and
other trade barriers that impede
sales to the region, correcting the current situation in which 80
percent of Central American goods enter the
duty-free but U.S. Americans must pay heavy tariffs.
is a test of American leadership in a changing world,’’ said
Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, a leading proponent of the agreement.
“We cannot claim to be fighting for American jobs and yet turn
our backs on 44 million new customers in
the end, it was the national security argument—that rejection of
the deal would further impoverish the region, undermine their
democracies and exacerbate the flow of illegal immigrants into the
—that appeared to persuade some wavering members.
president, said White House press secretary Scott McLellan,
stressed to Republicans “the importance of supporting young and
emerging democracies in our own hemisphere, and the importance of
strengthening democracy here in our own hemisphere. And that was
something that clearly resonated with members of the House.”
is good for our national security in supporting these fledgling
democracies at our back door,” House Majority Leader Tom DeLay,
R-Texas, sponsor of the bill.
allay lawmakers’ concerns about the
sugar and textile industries, the administration also won over
several Republicans by pledging protection from Central American
all were convinced. Rep. Howard Coble, R-N.C., who voted against
the accord, said he told Bush that his late mother was a textile
worker and that when textile workers urged him to vote against
CAFTA, “said to the president, ‘it’s my mamma talking to
textile groups now support the pact because it could help Central
American clothing manufacturers, which buy large quantities of
fabric and material, compete against Chinese goods, which have
House on Wednesday also passed legislation strengthening the
monitoring of China’s trade policies, a bill that GOP leaders
brought to the floor to satisfy several lawmakers who were
undecided on CAFTA because they said the United States wasn’t
tough enough in enforcing trade laws.
has invested considerable time and effort to winning approval of
CAFTA. For example, he invited the leaders of all six nations to a
White House meeting and has spoken to Latino and business groups
and with dozens of lawmakers.
addition to the six new CAFTA nations and the NAFTA nations
and México, the
has free trade agreements with
. Congress has also approved a free trade pact with
that has yet to go into effect.
Note: The House bill is H.R. 3045. Rico
de La Prensa contributed to this report.