U.S. Reps. Shaw and Foley on CAFTA
- Both Florida Senators Nelson and Martinez voted with the majority (54-
45) in approving CAFTA last week. The House will be tougher,
particularly because of the political influence the sugar industry
has in our state. But the House Ways and Means Committee approved it.
Now it is up to the full House.
See the full story at:
But Rep. E. Clay Shaw Jr., R-Fla., chairman of the Ways and Means
trade subcommittee, said the future of fledgling democracies in
Central America and the security of the United States were at stake.
"Every country in the world is watching this vote to see if the
United States is serious about free trade or not," Shaw said. "Rather
than providing handouts or loans, the United States can quickly
improve the quality of life of millions of our neighbors by providing
DR-CAFTA countries improved access to our vast market and an
opportunity to purchase U.S. products free of high tariffs."
One effort to round up wavering votes focused on sugar.
Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns sent a letter late Wednesday to
the chairmen of the House and Senate agriculture committees promising
that the administration would protect the domestic sugar industry
from a potential influx of sugar from the CAFTA countries.
Under the administration's promise, the secretary of agriculture
would purchase sugar imported from these countries in excess of the
current 1.5 million short ton quota on foreign imports. Johanns also
said the department would study the feasibility of converting sugar
In the House, Republican Rep. Mark Foley of Florida, which grows the
country's most sugar cane, said he was still hopeful that more
concessions would be made to the sugar industry before the House vote.
Foley voted for the agreement in the committee, but said he wanted
administration support for a pilot program to convert sugar to
ethanol, not just a study of its feasibility, before he would commit
to supporting the agreement on the House floor.
"I need a pretty strong indication that this sugar is going to be
used," Foley said, adding that he did not want the sugar "put in a
warehouse and let the rats eat it."