The House gave President Bush a legislative victory in the early morning hours Thursday, passing the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) on a 217-to-215 vote. House leaders, using a strategy made infamous during the vote on Medicare prescription drug legislation in 2003, held the 15-minute vote open for an hour until they rounded up enough Republicans to secure passage. According to White House spokesman Scott McClellan, President Bush made eight telephone calls to members considered on the fence and Vice President Dick Cheney was at the Capitol to corral votes. It was the support of 15 Democrats, however, that secured passage of the trade bill. Led by moderate Rep. William Jefferson (D.-La.), the Democrat crossovers became crucial when 27 Republicans defied Bush on the bill.
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