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(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Tonight, the U.S. Senate voted 54-45 in favor of the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). U.S. Senator Patty Murray voted for CAFTA.

“From our world class industries to our high tech companies to family farmers in central and eastern Washington, our state depends on trade. Increasing our access to world markets has become ever more important to the economy and quality of life we enjoy from Seattle to Yakima to Spokane.

The critics of CAFTA make valid points. Today’s global economy has created instability and disruption for many American workers and their families. And the Bush Administration has done a woefully inadequate job of assisting Americans with the economic challenges we are confronting.

The trade debate has shifted considerably in the last several years, yet the Administration has failed to explain to the American public the need to continue making trade agreements with our partners around the world. But in the end, disagreements with the Bush Administration on its tactics and strategy does not merit a rejection of a trade agreement that will help Washington state to compete globally.

CAFTA is not perfect, but it does help workers and industries to compete more effectively in more open markets close to home. The agreement will also include a financial commitment from the United States to help enforce labor and environmental protections in the CAFTA countries. And for the first time in a trade agreement, the International Labor Organization will receive U.S. resources to monitor and verify progress in the Central American countries’ efforts to improve labor law enforcement and working conditions.

Now more than ever, Washington state is dependent on international trade. As our state, national, and world economies continue to change I will continue to fight for policies that keep us strong at home and competitive abroad. Our trade policy is just one component of a larger effort we must engage in to succeed and win in the global economy.

We must also do more at home to put the needs of the American people first by addressing retirement security, reducing the costs of healthcare, investing in critical infrastructure, and ensuring that every American gets the world class education and training they need to succeed. Only by tackling these challenges head-on can the promise of economic prosperity be fulfilled for all Americans.”