U.S. House Republicans call for vote on Dubai Ports World deal

| 3/8/2006

Republican leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives have called for a vote that could put an end to the controversial Dubai Ports World deal.

The Washington Post reported that a measure blocking the deal – which would give Dubai Ports World control over significant operations at 21 U.S. ports – is expected to be attached to a must-pass emergency spending bill to provide funding for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Dubai Ports World is owned by the government of the United Arab Emirates.

A vote on the bill is scheduled for the week of March 12. Insiders say the move could trigger a showdown between Congress and President Bush, who has threatened to veto any measure that attempts to block the port deal.

But that measure would still have to get through the Senate first, and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-TN, has said he would hold off any legislation until a 45-day review of the port deal is complete.

Congressional Quarterly reported that Senate Republicans are standing by Frist’s pledge.

“I think the general sense here is that we want to let the process that’s been put in place go forward,” said Sen. Rick Santorum, R-PA.

However, Congressional Quarterly also reported that a bipartisan group of senators has already drafted legislation that would halt the port transfer, require a new investigation, and give Congress the authority to kill the deal altogether. That legislation has not yet been brought before the Senate floor.