Legislators may make moves on port security

| Wednesday, March 01, 2006

As the Dubai port controversy continues to swirl, several Republican lawmakers are planning action to tighten regulations and increase funding for port security.

Congressional Quarterly reported that the chairs of several key senate committees – including the Armed Services Committee and the Homeland Security Committee – were calling for additional funding for security to be attached to either the fiscal 2006 supplemental spending bill covering Iraq and Hurricane Katrina or to the fiscal 2007 spending and authorizing bills.

These calls come in the midst of a 45-day review period of a controversial deal that would give a company owned by the country of United Arab Emirates – Dubai Ports World – control over some operations at a number of U.S. ports, including six major ports.

Sen. Judd Gregg, R-NH, chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, said the Homeland Security Department is woefully under funded and called for $1.2 billion to be found in the 2006 fiscal budget for the department.

MSNBC reported that legislators in New York and New Jersey have been flooded with calls objecting to the port deal, and several members of Congress are still working on legislation to block the deal, in spite of veto threats from President Bush.

Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, meanwhile, told MSNBC that there is a simple way to prevent Dubai Ports World from taking over operations in Philadelphia’s Tioga Marine Terminal.

Rendell said the lease on the terminal ends in May and, if the deal goes through, the state can simply re-bid the contract.

Comments