June 30, 2005


Senate approves trade agreement with six Latin American countries (AP, 6/30/05)

The Senate on Thursday endorsed a free trade agreement with six Latin American nations, handing a major win to President Bush, who has promoted the accord as a mark of U.S. commitment to democracy and prosperity in the hemisphere.

The vote was 54-45 in favor of the Central America Free Trade Agreement, setting the stage for a final battle in the House, where the agreement's many critics have vowed to defeat it.

Anyone seen the roll call vote posted anywhere? On C-SPAN it looked like every Democratic leader voted against it and Hillary and all the other '08 contenders. That might be explained by internal party politics, but guys like John Corzine voted against it. Can he explain that to any of his friends on Wall Street? Can anyone explain why any businessman would contribute to the Democratic Party?

The weird one on the GOP side was the two Maine Senators voted against--anyone know why?

Here's the roll call and it does look like not a single one of the Democrat leaders or their '08 hopefuls voted in favor of free trade. Amazing.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 30, 2005 10:48 PM

Perhaps they were trying to protect the Maine sugar industry. Bingam of New Mexico appears to be the only Dem to vote yes - probably due to culture politics.

Posted by: AWW at June 30, 2005 11:15 PM

Let me guess - 55/45 was a "slight" majority, part of a very bruising battle.

Posted by: Sandy P at June 30, 2005 11:18 PM

Even Jeffords voted for it though and I think NH and VT are more maple dependent.

Posted by: oj at June 30, 2005 11:19 PM

Hmm. Lots of Republican opposition. Not going to be easy in the House.

Posted by: John Thacker at June 30, 2005 11:57 PM

Business groups need to crack the whip on Democrats.

Posted by: oj at July 1, 2005 12:00 AM

OK, call me an idiot, but why would this go to the House? Isn't it a treaty, and therefore only needs Senate approval?

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at July 1, 2005 1:51 AM

Lieberman abastained, Chafee voted for it, Thune against.

Posted by: Ali Choudhury at July 1, 2005 6:36 AM

John Thacker: DeLay, Blunt, and crew will crack the whip in the House. The President won't lose.

Annoying Old Guy: I presume it's being submitted as an executive agreement rather than a treaty proper.

Posted by: kevin whited at July 1, 2005 7:20 AM

That's how fast track treaty authority works:


Posted by: oj at July 1, 2005 7:53 AM

Took a closer look at the roll call. 10 Dems voted yes while 12 GOPers voted no. Jeffords the independent voted yes. While this indicates more GOP opposition than first appears I agree with Kevin that GOP House discipline will get it passed in the House.

Any thoughts on why the 12 GOP senators voted no?

Posted by: AWW at July 1, 2005 7:59 AM

They'll need Democrats in the House.

Posted by: oj at July 1, 2005 8:19 AM

AOG - No, it's a law. 50% of House and Senate is easier than 2/3 of Senate, so they do these as laws instead of treaties now. Senate rules made free trade agreements unfilibusterable, like budget resolutions, but unlike judicial nominations.

Posted by: pj at July 1, 2005 8:21 AM


Smattering of sugar beet (Mountain time zone), sugar maple (NorthEast), and sugar cane (Louisiana) state senators voted no. Plus Lindsey Graham, because SC is traditionally a protectionist bastion. (Even though he ran as a free trader.) Same thing for Richard Shelby (R-AL). Specter voted no perhaps because of the "not enough environmental and minimum wage provisions in order to prevent the Central Americans from competing and throw them out of work" idea.

Mel Martinez of Florida voted yes, despite not being absolutely necessary. Good for him.

Posted by: John Thacker at July 1, 2005 8:52 AM

So why did Collins and Snowe vote against CAFTA?

1. The White House was for it.

2. Any measure exemplifying majority-party principles makes them nervous, so they try to appear bipartisan by joining the hyperpartisan minority whenever expedience and low risk allow.

3. Their grasp of economics rivals Michael Moore's.

4. As Maine sinks deeper into the bogs of tax-and-regulate Democratic domination, they are keen to placate the whiny pinkos who swing elections.

Posted by: Axel Kassel at July 1, 2005 9:50 AM

Olympia Snowe has never been anything other than a Democrat. She's one of their more successful plants in the GOP, in my opinion.

Posted by: Tom at July 1, 2005 5:45 PM