One year ago Friday, the House narrowly approved the Central American Free Trade Agreement in the wee hours of the morning. Casting a deciding vote in favor of the agreement was Congressman Robin Hayes. Hayes' yes vote gave President Bush's free trade agenda a much needed push and propelled CAFTA to a 217-215 victory.
When the traditional 15-minute voting period expired on the controversial CAFTA free trade agreement at 11:17 p.m., the no votes outnumbered the yes votes by 180 to 175, with dozens of members still undeclared. House Republican leaders kept the voting open another 47 minutes, furiously rounding up holdouts in their own party, twisting arms and making deals, according to Robin Hayes.
It was reported that Hayes recalled Republican House Speaker Hastert had "said to me, 'If you vote with me, we'll do everything we need to do in your district to help with jobs.'" [NY Times, July 29, 2005]
Rep. Hastert, however, claimed no such deal was made for jobs in the 8th District.
According to reports, Hastert "had a different view" on "what he had done to get Hayes to change his vote." The "speaker attributed Hayes' switch to grassroots pressure, not to any deal." Hastert: "I did have a discussion with Robin Hayes. But Robin Hayes ultimately talked to his textile people. They encouraged him to vote for the bill ultimately." [Charlotte Observer (Hotline), 7/29/05]
Still Days after Hastert claimed no deal was made for jobs in the 8th District, Hayes continued to credit the disavowed deal for his midnight reversal.
"If I didn't think [the promise by House leaders] was huge, I would have never done it," Hayes said in a phone interview. "I know the political fallout from the vote and the hell I can catch in the upcoming elections." [Women's Wear Daily, August 2, 2005]
In a district wide mailing paid for at taxpayers expense just this month, Hayes continues to develop an interesting alibi, now citing something much closer to Hastert's version of events with the "grassroots pressure" for CAFTA apparently coming from multinational corporations like Phillip Morris.
Hayes repeated the 'midnight phone calls from corporations' version of events again this Monday in the Fayetteville Observer ["Lost Jobs Could Put Hayes at Risk" July 24, 2006].
Larry Kissell, 27 year veteran of the local textile industry and Robin Hayes' 2006 Democratic challenger, asked for clarification from Hayes today. "We just want the truth. He's provided several explanantions about why he voted for this terrible trade deal including concessions from President Bush, but every time he talks about his vote, he changes his story."
"It appears he's been in Washington so long that he's forgotten how to shoot straight. Call Congressman Hayes at (202) 225-3715 and see what story you get."