Thursday, July 28, 2005
The U.S. House of Representatives approved the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) early morning Thursday, with a narrow vote of 217 in favor, 215 against. Voting was held open for an hour, 45 minutes past the House’s 15-minute voting rule as the President along with other supporters lobbied into the night.
The vote was so close, if one House member changed a “Yea” vote to a “Nay” vote, CAFTA would have failed in a 216-216 tie.
In tallying the votes, 25 Republicans, mostly from Midwest Corn Belt and Rust Belt states and the Southeast United States’s textile industrial belt, broke party line to vote against the measure. Two Republicans were present, but refused to vote.
The Democrats presented a more united front. All but 15 Democrats present voted against the treaty. Independent House members, who usually vote with the Democrats also voted against the measure.
Supporters of the measure include President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman and Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez. Opponents included most House Democrats.
The trade agreement already passed the Senate in June. President Bush has said he will sign it into law.
DR-CAFTA encompasses the following components:
- Services: all public services are to be open to private investment.
- Investment: governments promise to grant ironclad guarantees to foreign investment.
- Government procurement: All government purchases must be open to transnational bids.
- Market access: governments pledge to reduce and eventually to eliminate tariffs and other measures that protect domestic products.
- Agriculture: duty-free import and elimination of subsidies]] on agricultural products.
- Intellectual property rights: privatization of and monopoly over technological know-how.
- Anti-dumping]] rules, subsidies and countervailing rights: governments commit to phase out protectionist barriers in all sectors.
- Competition policy: the dismantling of national monopolies.
- Dispute resolution: the right of transnationals to sue countries in private international courts.
- Environmental protection: the enforcement of environmental laws and improvement of the environment.
- Labor standards: the enforcement of the International Labour Organization’s core labor standards.
- Transparency: the reduction of government corruption.
- Test-Data Exclusivity for pharmaceutical corporations