A lot of political manuevering happened towards the end of the day, with the Republicans holding the vote open to pressure fellow colleagues for their vote.
It worked, but barely…
More on CAFTA, from the NY Times:
WASHINGTON, July 28 – It was just before midnight on Wednesday when Representative Robin Hayes capitulated.
Mr. Hayes, a Republican whose district in North Carolina has lost thousands of textile jobs in the last four years, had defied President Bush and House Republican leaders by voting against the Central American Free Trade Agreement, or Cafta.
But the House speaker, J. Dennis Hastert, told him they needed his vote anyway. If he switched from “nay” to “aye,” Mr. Hayes recounted, Mr. Hastert promised to push for whatever steps he felt were necessary to restrict imports of Chinese clothing, which has been flooding into the United States in recent months.
As it turned out, the switch by Mr. Hayes was decisive. Within a few minutes, the House approved the trade pact by the paper-thin margin of two votes, 217 to 215. The pact would eliminate most trade barriers between the United States and Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.
But not many Dems are supporting this bill. They say it benefits corporate interests. Nooooo…really? Like NAFTA didn’t? Give me a break.
But labor unions and their Democratic allies charge that the pact offers strong backing to corporations while offering little additional protection to low-wage workers in Central America. As a result, they contend, it will encourage American companies to shift more jobs to those countries.
Whatever the economic merits, the vote on Wednesday night made it clear that the political appeal of the trade agreement was low. Only 15 Democrats supported the measure.
And here’s the titular piece of the story. Apparently, if this is true, CAFTA only passed by ONE vote.
One of the strangest votes was by Representative Charles H. Taylor, Republican of North Carolina, who had vowed to vote against the pact because of his concerns for textile workers.
But as the minutes ticked by, Mr. Taylor was one of only two members recorded as not voting. By not voting, he gave Republicans a two-vote victory rather than a one-vote margin.
But on Thursday, Mr. Taylor insisted that there had been an error in the electronic voting system and that he had indeed voted against the measure.
“I voted NO,” Mr. Taylor announced in a terse statement on Thursday, saying the House clerk’s written log showed his vote and that he would seek to have the vote registered as a “no.”
Very, very strange. Let’s hope this was just a mistake.
However, it still has to pass the Senate, and I’m anticipating it’s going to face a very tough fight there.