From today's Winston-Salem Journal:
N.C. votes, and a nonvote, crucial to CAFTA
Two N.C. Republicans took heat yesterday after the U.S. House of Representatives narrowly approved the Central American Free Trade Agreement.
Rep. Robin Hayes, R-8th, spent the day defending his decision to switch his "no" vote to a "yes" on the House floor late Wednesday night. And Rep. Charles Taylor, R-11th, said he voted no, but it was not recorded because of a computer malfunction.
Hayes said he changed his vote after Republican leaders reassured him on specific textile provisions and trade-related issues with China. It proved to be decisive. CAFTA passed 217-215.
"Leadership said to me, 'We need this vote and we'll do whatever it takes,'" Hayes said in a phone interview yesterday afternoon.
Democrats were quick to attack him for "flip-flopping" on CAFTA.
It is not the first time Hayes has had a last-minute change of heart on a trade bill. He cast a similarly decisive vote in 2001, when he went onto the floor opposed to President Bush's request for Trade Promotion Authority but was persuaded to switch.
Rep. Charles Taylor, R-11th, said yesterday that he voted "no" to CAFTA alongside Rep. Howard Coble, R-6th. But Taylor's vote never registered, and the final roll-call vote has him as not having voted at all.
Democrats accused Taylor of ducking the important vote. He blamed a computer malfunction.
"Due to an error, my 'no' vote did not record on the voting machine. The clerk's computer logs verified that I had attempted to vote, but it did not show my 'nay' vote," Taylor said in a statement posted on his Web site yesterday afternoon.
Had Taylor's vote been recorded, and had Hayes had not switched, the bill would have failed on a 216-216 tie.
...Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-5th, bucked pressure from the White House to vote against the bill. "I was asked by a variety of people to change my vote, but I couldn't do that. I told them I was sorry," Foxx said.
Both Foxx and Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-10th, said they were sticking with promises to vote against CAFTA. Both thought it was a raw deal.
"Pressure is all a part of politics," McHenry said. "I want people to know when I pledge something, I do it."