Following heavy lobbying from the White House, the U.S.
House of Representatives passed the Central American Free Trade Agreement by
just two votes. The measure was passed by the Senate in June and will now go to
the president for his signature.
President Bush, along with Vice-president Cheney and other top
Republicans spent much of the week meeting with House members to try and push
the bill through. Their efforts worked, in spite of concerns that the pact would harm American workers.
The accord is similar to the controversial North American
Free Trade Agreement. It will eventually eliminate tariffs and other trade
barriers between the U.S. and Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras,
Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic.
Supporters claim CAFTA will level the playing field with
Latin American nations and opens up those markets for U.S. goods. CAFTA critics
have deep concerns that it could cost American workers their jobs.