Planet News Views

Friday, March 03, 2006

Controversial UAE Port Deal Finds Critics In U.S. Congress


House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi provides remarks made Thursday in the House of Representatives

Article By Scott McLean
With remarks from Rep. Pelosi

Public concerns over a United Arab Emirates company buying and preparing to take over operations at several U.S. ports have led to a proposed investigation by Congress.

The controversial UAE ports deal was a major topic Thursday in the U.S. House of Representatives, although it became clear no agreement exists yet regarding what to do about it.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi tried to gain support for the one version of a measure that would require a 45-day investigation of the port deal and require the House to vote on approval of the deal, according to a press release from Representative Pelosi.


The proposal to debate was narrowly defeated by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

Through the press release, Pelosi shared her official comments, which follow:

“Mr. Speaker, yesterday marked the third anniversary of the creation of the Department of Homeland Security. Yet today, three years later, our country is not as safe as it should be. We have a port security system that is full of holes.

“The ports are our first line of defense in protecting our country. Yet the backroom port deal shines a bright light on the failure of the President and this Republican Congress to secure our ports.

“The biggest threat to our security is the fissile materials that are still out there, the nuclear materials of the post-Soviet Union world. They were formally weapons of the Soviet Union and now they are not secured adequately and available to terrorists.

“The single biggest threat is those weapons in a container coming into our country. I really can’t understand why this Administration has refused to do what is necessary to protect our ports from that threat. And, it’s not only our ports; when these containers come from overseas to our country, they are unloaded onto a truck, onto a train, drive right through your city, your town, perhaps past your home. So the danger goes well beyond our ports.

“Here at home, only 6 percent of containers entering our ports are screened. Yet at two of the busiest terminals in the world – in Hong Kong – 100 percent of containers are screened. If Hong Kong terminals can do it, why can’t America?

“That is why Democrats are proposing that 100 percent of the containers that comes to our ports are screened, at the port of origin – long before they reach our shores and our waterways.

“Today, as we debate and vote on another issue of security, Democrats demand that attention be given to our ports. We will call for a vote on a bipartisan bill that is identical to the one introduced by the senior Republican and Democrat on the Homeland Security Committee, Mr. King and Mr. Thompson. It will require a 45-day investigation of the Dubai deal. In addition, we require both Houses of Congress to have an up or down vote on whether or not to approve this agreement.

“Congress must assert itself. Congress must take responsibility. We take an oath of office to protect the American people and we take that oath seriously.


“Today is the day that the Dubai deal will be finalized, and this is our best chance to require a congressional vote on whether or not that backroom deal should go through. I urge my colleagues to assert Congress’s responsibility to the American people, to assert Congress’s role in checks and balances in our Constitution. I urge our colleagues to vote against the previous question.”

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