In a narrow but decisive triumph for the Bush administration, the United States House of Representatives approved the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) by a two-vote margin, 217-215. Since the US Senate approved CAFTA in June by a 54-45 vote, the measure now goes to President Bush to be signed into law.
House approval came after tenacious lobbying by the White House. Bush claimed that the trade agreement with six Latin American nations would greatly boost security, stability, and freedom in the Western Hemisphere. Critics contended that CAFTA would harm American workers.
CAFTA will eventually end tariffs and other trade barriers between the United States and Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic. These nations signed the trade accord in 2004.