From the August 2005 Idaho Observer:
Congress (barely) "passes" controversial CAFTA bill
President memorializes questionable victory with one-finger salute to dissenters
WASHINGTON, D.C.—The leader of the alleged free world was once again photographed while one-finger saluting those opposed to the passage of the hotly-debated and questionably-passed Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). After twisting the arm of Congress, which moments later narrowly passed the controversial, 2,600-page trade agreement, President Bush responded to dissenters with all the statesmanlike grace the world has come to expect from the second-stolen-term-commander-in-chief.
Spokesmen for the president claim that the extended digit was a thumb, but a grade-school-level understanding of human anatomy indicates that it was, indeed, the middle finger that was extended in a gesture that has significant meaning in the western world.
Although unbecoming of a man who occupies the Oval Office, the one-finger salute is actually representative of his administration’s sentiments toward the American people and the people of Central America. CAFTA, along with NAFTA, GATT and the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas, have proven to be extremely profitable for governments and the corporations that own them, while being detrimental to the working class of all nations involved and their environments.
Did it pass?
It appears that CAFTA was deemed to have "passed" though it may not have had parliamentary protocols been observed.
At the 15-minute mark, the time when the vote is to be closed, CAFTA had failed by a vote of 180-175. Republican House leadership reportedly violated the House rules, violated the time limit, twisted arms and made deals until the score was 217-215 in favor of passage.
Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-Ariz.) described the pressure the Republican leadership put on its party majority members: "Twist some Republican arms until they break in a thousand pieces."
The Washington Post of July 28 added to Kolbe’s "arm-twisting" comments: "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."
After the vote was open for more than an hour past the time allotted, two reps did not cast a vote—or did they? Jo Ann Davis (R-Virginia) and Charles Taylor (R-North Carolina) were already on record as going to vote "no" and would have defeated CAFTA, but they had been persuaded to remain silent.
Mr. Taylor’s was a key vote from a textile state that everyone was watching. When his vote was not tallied the following morning, Rep. Taylor was asked why he did not vote and, reportedly furious, told The New York Times July 29, "I voted ‘NO’" and that the House clerk’s written log showed his vote was cast.
Presidential press secretary Scott McClellan stated after the internationalist victory, "And on the Central American Free Trade Agreement, last night’s vote was a real victory for the American people..."
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