The Liberty Committee
July 29, 2005
When the official 15-minute period ended, CAFTA had gone down to defeat, 180 “nays” to 175 “yeas.” But the House leadership was so politically driven to get what they wanted, they broke the House rules: they simply violated the time limit in order to keep twisting arms and making deals until they finally had bought or coerced enough votes to pass CAFTA nearly an hour later.
“Twist some Republican arms until they break in a thousand pieces.” That statement by Representative Jim Kolbe (R-Arizona) describes the Republican leadership’s rabid determination to get the U.S. House to pass the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) — no matter what.
The vote that began late Wednesday night finally ended just after midnight on Thursday morning, July 28. But Mr. Kolbe’s statement doesn’t begin to tell the whole truth. Here’s some of what he left out.
Because President Bush and the House leadership knew the vote would be razor close, the day of the vote began with the president making a rare appearance on Capitol Hill to speak before a closed-door, members-only meeting of House Republicans that morning. He even brought Vice President Cheney and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice with him.
And the arm-twisting began.
“The last-minute negotiations for Republican votes resembled the wheeling and dealing on a car lot. Republicans who were opposed or undecided were courted during hurried meetings in Capitol hallways, on the House floor and at the White House. GOP leaders told their rank and file that if they wanted anything, now was the time to ask, lawmakers said, and members took advantage of the opportunity by requesting such things as fundraising appearances by Cheney and the restoration of money the White House has tried to cut from agriculture programs. Lawmakers also said many of the favors bestowed in exchange for votes will be tucked away into the huge energy and highway bills that Congress is scheduled to pass this week before leaving for the August recess.” — The Washington Post, July 28, 2005
Yet despite all the bribes and threats (one congressman estimates at least $47 billion in pork, and probably much more), the Republican establishment would later that night fail to get the U.S. House to pass CAFTA when the legitimate 15-minute voting period would expire. CAFTA would be stopped fair and square.
But even though House Republican leaders preach the importance of good morals, and run for office on “family values,” their game plan already included buying votes and breaking the rules to get what they wanted. Before the CAFTA debate even began Wednesday evening, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay stated, “It will be a tough vote, but we will pass CAFTA tonight.” A bold prediction by Mr. DeLay, considering that the vote was too close to call, and he knew it. But when you have the power to break the rules and no qualms about doing so, you can afford to make such predictions.
Two hours of debate on CAFTA ended in the U.S. House at 10:59 p.m. Wednesday night. Representative Ray LaHood (R-Illinois), speaker pro tempore, then ordered a 15-minute vote — at the end of which CAFTA had been defeated! But with the vote kept open for more than one hour after it began, the “final” vote tally was 217 in favor to 215 against, with two not voting. Or was it? We were led to believe that the two members who didn’t vote, Jo Ann Davis (R-Virginia) and Charles Taylor (R-North Carolina) who were already on record as going to vote “no” and would have defeated CAFTA, had been persuaded to remain silent. Mr. Taylor’s was a key vote from a textile state that everyone was watching.
Republican leaders “spent much of [the] time wrestling with about 10 rebellious but ‘undecided’ Republicans, pleading and pressuring one after another to vote for the agreement.” — New York times, July 29, 2005. The herd mentality dictates that if you can break key resistance, the rest will follow.
But on Thursday, the day after the vote, I received a telephone call from a talk radio host in Congressman Taylor’s district. He told me he had asked Mr. Taylor that morning why he didn’t vote against CAFTA as he had pledged. The talk radio host told me “Taylor said he had voted ‘no’…but somebody changed it and Mr. Taylor was furious.” “‘I voted NO,’ Mr. Taylor announced in a terse statement on Thursday, saying the House clerk’s written log showed his vote….” — New York Times, July 29, 2005.
So, the Republican leadership claimed their razor-thin victory. On Thursday, presidential press secretary Scott McClellan bragged, “And on the Central American Free Trade Agreement, last night’s vote was a real victory for the American people….” Well, Scott…that’s what Bill Clinton told us about NAFTA in 1993.
See how your U.S. representative voted. If he voted against CAFTA, please thank him. If he voted for CAFTA, please express your opinion.
Thousands of you throughout the country worked hard to protect U.S. sovereignty from the globalists’ agenda. It is hard work. Sometimes it seems thankless — but we are stronger for every effort we make. Next time, a hair’s breath loss like this could be a narrow victory. Don’t give in and don’t give up.
Thank you for your efforts! We won’t give up.
The Liberty Committee