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Brown Commends Bipartisan Coalition Efforts, Says CAFTA Vote Costly for White House

WASHINGTON — Congressman Sherrod Brown (D-OH) issued the following statement:

"The Central American Free Trade Agreement did not pass based on its merits. Tonight's vote was an exercise in strong-arm tactics. The bipartisan coalition opposed to CAFTA secured more votes tonight than in any trade agreement in American history.

"Unfortunately, as with past trade votes, Republican leadership held the roll open for an hour and twisted arms. With the help of Vice President Cheney and U.S. Trade Representative Portman, who lobbied for votes outside the House Chamber, this agreement crafted by a select few, for a select few narrowly passed the House.

"The administration chose to ignore the overwhelming opposition to CAFTA from business and labor groups, farmers and ranchers, faith-based groups and environmental and human rights organizations in the U.S. and Central America.

"They made so many side deals that American taxpayers will be paying for CAFTA for years to come. Tom DeLay promised so many chairmanships that he's going to have to create new committees."