On December 6, Republican congressman Robin Hayes from North Carolina made a decision that could well cost him his reelection bid in November. Hayes cast the tiebreaking vote to pass President Bush's Trade Promotion Act.
The bill, which would give Bush fast-track trade negotiating authority, was fiercely opposed by North Carolina's powerful textile industry. Hayes had decided to oppose it unless some protections could be added for the struggling industry. Then he received three phone calls. Andrew Card, the president's chief of staff, Commerce Secretary Don Evans, and House Speaker Dennis Hastert all called to enlist Hayes' support. The president needed his vote, or the Trade Act was dead. At the last minute, Hayes received word that the president had agreed to include protections for the textile industry. But unions and industry remain strongly opposed to the bill.
The bill is expected to pass in the Senate. Standing before the House Republican Conference, Hayes told members why he had ultimately decided to support the bill. "He stood up in front of the Republican Conference choked with emotion and said, 'I just want to tell you all, I'm not a hero,'" recalls Rep. Mike Pence, (R-Ind.).
"He said, 'I just want to tell you the fact that this President and the speaker of the House both claim the same Lord as I do had a big impact on me. I see them as men of integrity, and I wanted to hand them a victory.'
"The 220 Republican members sitting there were dumbfounded," says Pence, who attends a weekly Bible study with Hayes and five other congressmen. "[Senior] congressmen told me afterwards it was the gutsiest thing they had ever seen in Congress."
Hayes faces a tough reelection battle. He won his second term with 55 percent of the ...1
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