House Majority Leader Tom DeLay says Republicans in the House of Representatives will approve the Central American Free Trade Agreement Wednesday night, with the help of a few Democrats, according to Reuters.
President Bush made a visit to Capitol Hill Wednesday morning to flex his political arm calling for final passage of CAFTA, comprehensive energy legislation and a highway bill before Congress heads home for a five-week recess.
National Corn Growers Association Director of Public Policy Lisa Kelley expects a CAFTA vote to occur at midnight tonight. Most believe it will pass by only one to two votes. If the 218 threshold is reached, more representatives may vote for the measure if they're not the deciding vote.
The Bush Administration has been busy this week making side deals to secure votes for the measure. Representatives Spencer Bachus of Alabama, Bob Inglis of South Carolina and Mike Rogers of Alabama, came over the fence in support of the deal after their textile concerns were met.
Several representatives are hoping to bend the Administration's strict rules on requiring Cuba to pay for traded goods prior to shipment. Members have requested a commitment from the Administration on changing back to requiring payment after goods are received. No official decision has been made on this yet. In the past Bush has said he is unwilling to back down on Cuba measures because it is a communist nation.
House leaders introduced legislation Tuesday to keep China accountable for its trade practices. Democrats accused Republicans of pushing the legislation through to gain CAFTA votes, instead of addressing the true needs of the problem. The legislation failed to achieve a two-thirds majority vote. A straight majority vote is expected immediately prior to the CAFTA vote Wednesday to get additional representatives on board.
Kelley explains that when CAFTA does come up, it will be an hour debate and then a votes tallied. Many members may vote "present" when they arrive for the beginning vote, and watch to see how it goes before making up their mind on which way to vote, Kelley adds.