July 18, 2005


Democrat votes on CAFTA crucial (Maria Recio, 7/18/05, Dallas Star-Telegram)

The leading CAFTA proponent among Texas Democrats is Rep. Henry Cuellar of Laredo. He counts at least three other Democrats who solidly support the bill. The other seven are undecided or oppose it.

Why is Cuellar, a freshman, out front on the bill?

"Jobs, jobs, jobs," he said. "When you look at the trade with these countries, their goods are coming in duty-free, but we face tariffs on our exports. Right now, it's a one-way street. With the agreement we'll be able to export more, and more jobs can be created."

But CAFTA has become a hard sell, even among Republicans, because of concerns over U.S. job losses and opposition from sugar-state producers who say they fear a flood of low-cost sugar imports.

The Bush administration submitted the pact for a vote first in the Senate, where it passed June 30 with the approval of both senators from Texas, putting pressure on the House.

Rep. Charlie Gonzalez, D- San Antonio, one of five undecided Texas Democrats, said he's torn on the issue. He's a free-trader, but he laments that Democrats had no input in the legislation.

"Conceptually and ideologically, I'm there," he said. "But why were Democrats excluded totally from the process?"

Because it's a treaty among nations, not a partisan pork roll? You'll recall the GOP didn't demand changes to GATT before passing it will Bill Clinton.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 18, 2005 9:59 AM

Back in the heyday of the Stupid Party, they got to be included in the process as a reward for their total subservience to people like Tip O'Neill and George Mitchell. Stop your party's loud-mouthed obstruction, and you too, Rep. Gonzalez, will be get token inclusion in the next treaty.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at July 18, 2005 12:08 PM

If he broke with the leadership on a few issues, he could be in every meeting (and he probably wouldn't even have to switch parties to get there), although Pelosi might kick him out (a la O'Neill and Phil Gramm). But I doubt if she can run the risk.

Posted by: jim hamlen at July 18, 2005 11:51 PM