Skip to comments.GOP House committee votes to defy Bush, block ports deal (62-2 Vote)
Posted on 03/08/2006 6:21:12 PM PST by Reagan Man
WASHINGTON In a congressional election-year repudiation of President Bush, a House panel dominated by Republicans voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to block a Dubai-owned firm from taking control of some U.S port operations. Democrats clamored for a vote in the Senate, too.
By 62-2, the House Appropriations Committee voted to bar DP World, run by the government of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, from holding leases or contracts at U.S. ports. The landslide vote was the strongest signal yet that more than three weeks of White House efforts to stunt congressional opposition to the deal have not been successful.
Bush has promised to veto any such measure passed by Congress. But there is widespread public opposition to the deal and the GOP fears losing its advantage on the issue of national security in this fall's elections.
The White House said the president's position was unchanged.
This is a national security issue, said Rep. Jerry Lewis, the chairman of the House panel, adding that the legislation would keep America's ports in American hands.
As the committee acted, Democrats on the other side of the Capitol maneuvered for a vote in the GOP-led Senate.
Republican leaders are trying to block a vote on the ports deal through a procedural vote that could occur as early as Thursday. That tactic is likely to fail, which could prompt Republicans to pull a lobbying reform bill from the floor in order to avoid defeat on the ports measure.
We believe an overwhelming majority will vote to end the deal, said Democrat Charles Schumer of New York, whose attempt to force the issue to the floor brought the Senate to a late-afternoon standstill.
Congressional supporters of the deal are few and far between, conceded Sen. John Warner, R-Va., an administration supporter.
GOP Senate leaders hope to delay a quick showdown with Bush on the issue, but the House committee, led by members of Bush's own party, showed a willingness to defy him on a security issue in an age of terrorism.
Raising the stakes, the panel attached the ports language to a must-pass $91 billion measure financing hurricane recovery and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The committee was to approve the entire bill late Wednesday and the full House could consider that measure as early as next week.
White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said the administration was concerned that attempts to address the DP World deal in that bill could delay money needed for U.S. troops and for hurricane victims on the Gulf Coast.
We are committed to open and sincere lines of communication and are eager to work with Congress, she said.
Congressional opponents of the deal hammered away at the security questions they said the ports deal raised.
One of the most vulnerable situations facing America is our ports of entry, said Rep. Bill Young, R-Fla., chairman of the House defense appropriations subcommittee. Whoever's responsible for those ports of entry should be American.
Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio., said allowing the DP World takeover to proceed and ignoring the public outcry over it would be irresponsible. The American people elected us to do something when an issue like this comes up, she said.
Only Reps. Jim Kolbe, R-Ariz., and Jim Moran, D-Va., voted against the measure.
It is premature, we don't have enough information and ... it may turn out to be unnecessary, Moran said. Added Kolbe: I just don't think this is the right thing to do.
Twice, anti-war protesters interrupted the committee meeting. They shouted: this war is illegal, stop funding this war, and the blood is on your hands.
The House and Senate developments underscored the extent to which the politically charged issue has come to dominate the agenda in recent days, with Republicans and Democrats competing to demonstrate the strongest anti-terrorism credentials in the run-up to midterm elections.
Republicans worked to prevent a vote in the Senate as an aide to Majority Leader Bill Frist said the Tennessean warned Treasury Secretary John Snow the president's position will be overrun by Congress if the administration fails to aggressively and clearly communicate with lawmakers during a 45-day review that is in progress.
The aide spoke on condition of anonymity because the meeting was private among Snow, Frist and several GOP committee chairmen. The Treasury Department oversees the multi-agency committee that initially approved the DP World takeover.
Republicans said it was possible senators would pass a simple symbolic statement in coming weeks that would put the Senate's view of the takeover on record without interfering with it.
But by mid-afternoon Wednesday, with the Senate debating legislation to respond to a corruption scandal involving lobbyists, Democrats signaled they wouldn't be satisfied with a weak provision.
Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada told reporters he was prepared to let the lobbying reform bill languish if necessary.
Senate Republicans accused Schumer of subterfuge in the way he sought to inject the issue into the debate, pointing to a letter earlier this month in which he and other Democrats said they would refrain from seeking immediate legislation.
Schumer and fellow Democrats brushed that aside, with Reid calling the maneuver absolutely valid.
The political context was unmistakable. Democrats circulated a pollster's memo claiming that recent events had dramatically reduced the GOP advantage on national security.
Some GOP senators accused the House of acting prematurely because of the heat Republicans were taking from their constituents.
To kill the deal without a comprehensive solution to port security is just living for the political moment, said Lindsey Graham, R-S.C
On the House floor, Democrats failed for the second time in a week to force a debate and vote on separate legislation that would require congressional approval of the takeover for it to take effect after a 45-day security investigation.
Republicans and Democrats in Congress have been assailing the Bush administration for its decision to let DP World purchase Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation, a British company that holds leases at several U.S. ports.
"That Needs to Change"
by Phyllis Schlafly, Mar. 8, 2006
"That needs to change" was Oprah's reply to Nan Talese of Doubleday, publisher of "A Million Little Pieces." After James Frey's "memoir" was exposed as a tissue of lies, Doubleday had tried to escape responsibility by saying that publishers don't fact-check non-fiction books.
To President Bush's approval of the $6.5 billion sale of terminals at six of our most important ports to the United Arab Emirates, Americans are shouting, "That needs to change." We are fed up with the post-9/11 failure (i.e., the refusal) of the Bush Administration to secure our borders and ports.
Bush's defense is, "Trust me." Sorry 'bout that. Bush's constituency prefers the Reagan maxim, "Trust but verify."
Ports pose a vital security concern because fewer than five percent of the more than 14 million containers that go through U.S. ports every year are inspected. We hope the other 95 percent of containers don't contain bombs or contraband.
The fact that the UAE has been helpful in some respects since 9/11 does not trump the facts that two of the 9/11 hijackers came from the UAE and some money to finance 9/11 was laundered through that country's banking system. Dubai was the main trans-shipment point for the Pakistani nuclear engineer who ran the world's largest nuclear proliferation ring and shipped equipment to enrich uranium from there to Libya, Iran and North Korea.
In defending the sale and pledging to veto any bill Congress might pass to cancel the deal, President Bush said, "I want those who are questioning it to step up and explain why all of a sudden a Middle Eastern company is held to a different standard than a great British company." That's easy to explain.
In the first place, Dubai Ports isn't just a Middle Eastern company; it's wholly owned by a Middle East government. We oppose this deal for the same reason that we successfully blocked Cosco, a company owned by the Communist Chinese government, from taking over the port of Long Beach, California.
To those who are looking for a standard for U.S. decision-making, here it is: the ports are American property and we're fully entitled to make any decision we believe is in the best interest of the United States of America. No law requires us to treat all countries the same.
We've been friends with England since 1814, connected by history, common law, language and wartime alliances, and there is no reason why we can't prefer England over a country that votes against us in the United Nations 70 percent of the time, and whose total existence depends on selling us oil at exorbitant prices.
The Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States didn't do a mandatory 45-day investigation. CFIUS was so casual that it failed to require Dubai Ports to keep copies of its business records on U.S. soil where they would be subject to orders from U.S. courts, and failed to require the company to designate an American citizen to accommodate U.S. requests.
Those obligations are commonly attached to U.S. approvals of foreign sales. CFIUS merely asked Dubai Ports to operate our seaports with existing U.S. managers "to the extent possible" and to take "all reasonable steps" to assist the Homeland Security Department.
The UAE has resurrected three has-been politicians: Republican Bob Dole (KS), and Democrats Tom Downey (NY) and Carol Browner (Clinton's head of the Environmental Protection Agency), to lobby for the port deal. They have a hard sell.
Former presidential candidate Gary Hart was plucked from political limbo to sound off on television. He said the deal illustrates "the confluence of the age of terrorism with the age of globalism, and we're just going to have to get used to it."
No, we don't. The American people are ready to ditch globalism and free trade if that means we must acquiesce in a deal made in London to let a Middle Eastern government run our ports in New York, Miami, Newark-Port Elizabeth, Philadelphia, New Orleans, and Baltimore, and exercise some control over the great U.S. Army port at Beaumont, Texas.
Lacking logical arguments, those who back Bush's position try to tar their opponents with smear words such as "racism" and "scaremongering." David Brooks outdid himself in his New York Times column by hurling a torrent of ugly epithets: "xenophobic," "Know Nothing," "nativist," "isolationist," "mass hysteria," "hatemonger," "collective mania," "reactionaries," "panderers," "bogus," "blowhard," "America First brigades," "xenophobic hysteria," and ending up with "garbage."
In a national radio debate in which I participated, the pro-UAE-deal spokesmen's principal argument was that the Arab world would be terribly upset by a cancellation of the deal, and we should be sensitive to their concerns because we all have to live in this world together. Au contraire. They should be sensitive to Americans' patriotic feelings and quietly withdraw from the deal just as China National Offshore Oil Co. (in the face of U.S. opposition) last year withdrew its $18.5 billion all-cash bid to acquire Unocal, one of America's oldest oil companies.
It's bad news for Republican candidates that Bush has allowed Hillary Clinton to get to his right on a national security issue.
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Good article by Phyllis Schlafly.
Easy to tell who is worried about the poll numbers. Instead of explaining it to their constituents, they panicked. Don't expect much more from them anyway.
Sorry islamists - the world has turned and moved beyond you. You just don't know it yet. We are on our way to a future without you.
Living for the political moment. How very Linseed Graham.
4,000 earmarks later and Congress get a backbone.... nice.
It sure is.
BS, it's a political issue and you want to keep your job.
What are we going to do ignore millions of people? It would be nice if it were that easy to solve this issue, but you cant wish away terrorism and ignore it remember Clinton already tried that.
Buh-bye Dubai. Don't let the door hit you on the *ss on the way out.
"Republican leaders are trying to block a vote on the ports deal through a procedural vote that could occur as early as Thursday. That tactic is likely to fail, which could prompt Republicans to pull a lobbying reform bill from the floor in order to avoid defeat on the ports measure."
there is so much on the surface that I don't understand it seems that SOMETHING has to be critical yet not obvious or relaated to port security ...
after all, they are ALL politicians
I first heard this story related on Fox News Sunday, Feruary, 19, 2006 edition. That makes 18-19 days of intense public debate on this issue, since that first reports. The public political debate here on Free Republic has been very spirited. Sadly, many FReepers who supported the DPW/UAE deal have continually engaged in sophistry, obfuscation and questioning peoples motivation. OTOH. Instead of sticking to the issues, many people on both sides have reverted to ad hominem attacks. All this has happened over the last three weeks or so. One thing I've not seen, is panic on the part of GOP Congress members. Some people have become hysterical over this issue. But I see no panic.
Republicans have just sealed the fate of the Republican party at the next election. The only way Dimocraps can win back the House and Senate is for Republican voters to stay home and that is exactly what will happen. The Dimocraps will win with no agenda, treating the war on terrorism as a legal issue and spending more money. No US company, without substantial political (Union) clout - from Dimocraps because Republicans cannot be trusted - can afford to purchase terminal operations in America.
The stupidity of the Republicans in letting Schumer use this issue to bolster his position in the Senate is simply shameful. That they play politics with issues like this is hundred times more dangerous to this country than DPW running a few of our terminals.
If the leadership is this stupid and banal and the public supports it, maybe we deserve a Democratic House and Presidency next time around.
Yep, we just cut our own throats. Now we better F***** kick China, Taiwan and Singapore out!
4,000 earmarks later and Congress get a backbone.... nice.
Prescisely. And the Bush adminstration had better back off their globalist agenda, and start acting on behalf of this country, in its best interests, and for the people that put them into power in Washington.
I hope they got the message that the American public is not going to swallow any more elitist crap -- next stop, our borders and cleaning this country out of illegals.
There was significant movement toward the president's position by congresscritters after the first wave of "oh my Gods". Then came the poll numbers, buffeted by the consistently false MSM mantra "Arabs buying our ports".
Congresscritters saw the poll numbers and quickly scurried back to the "safe" position. Boehner was on Tony Snow. And frankly admitted it was political hide saving. It's a bogus issue.
If they want to make a law that says no foreign leasing or management of terminals in US ports, then fine. But singling out the UAE, our staunchest Arab ally, when China and the Saudis and numerous others manage terminals is plain ignorance.
DPW runs terminals in for major ports in China. Do you think that the Chinese are not interested in the security of their ports?
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