June 15, 2005


Senate committee votes for CAFTA (Jeffrey Sparshott, June 15, 2005, THE WASHINGTON TIMES)

The Central American Free Trade Agreement cleared an important hurdle yesterday after the Bush administration pledged to discuss "any reasonable proposals" to allay sugar-industry concerns about the deal.

The Senate Finance Committee voted 11-9 in favor of CAFTA after an informal hearing.

Sen. Craig Thomas, Wyoming Republican, proved to be the crucial pro-CAFTA vote at the hearing.

The lawmaker consistently has opposed CAFTA provisions that would allow the six Latin American nations to increase their sugar exports to the United States. But yesterday, after reviewing a letter from Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns and talking with U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman, he said the administration and sugar producers now appear to be willing to sit down and talk about solutions.

"I don't know what the solution will be. ... I'll vote no if we don't come up with something," said Mr. Thomas, whose state is home to sugar-beet farmers.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 15, 2005 7:14 AM
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