Menendez, Clinton Introduce Bill to Ban Foreign Government Control of U.S. Ports

Menendez, Clinton Introduce Bill to Ban Foreign Government Control of U.S. Ports

Lautenberg, Boxer and Nelson join bill blocking Dubai deal

Washington - United States Senators Robert Menendez and Hillary Rodham Clinton, joined by Senators Frank R. Lautenberg, Barbara Boxer and Bill Nelson, today introduced legislation to ban companies owned by foreign governments from controlling operations at U.S. ports. The bill would block the pending sale of U.S. port operations to Dubai Ports World, a company owned by the government of the United Arab Emirates.

Menendez and Clinton introduced the legislation after the Bush administration failed to reverse the controversial approval of the pending sale of operations at six major U.S. ports, including the port of New York and New Jersey, to Dubai Ports World. While the administration has agreed to a 45-day review of the transaction, it appears that once the sale closes on March 2, the administration may lose its legal authority to block it.

Lawmakers from all parts of the country and of every political stripe called on President Bush to reverse course on this deal to outsource control of our ports to a foreign government, Menendez said. Instead he chose stall tactics that only mask his administrations plan to move full speed ahead with this sale. Since the president wont act to keep our ports safe, we will.

In the post-9/11 world, we cannot afford to surrender our port operations to foreign governments, Clinton said. Port security is national security and national security is port security. Our legislation will stop foreign governments from managing, controlling, or owning U.S. port operations.

"As terrorists continue to plot and plan attacks against the United States, we can't afford to let foreign governments have access to the most sensitive information about our port operations," said Lautenberg. "We can't trust the Bush Administration to protect our ports, so Congress needs to pass this bill."

"Common sense dictates that in this post-9/11 world, foreign countries should not run our ports or other infrastructure," said Boxer. "The fact that we have to fight for this wise policy is mind boggling."

Dubai Ports World has announced plans to buy P&O Ports, the company that runs commercial operation at ports in New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, New Orleans, Miami and Philadelphia, as well as other U.S. cities. The transaction was reviewed and approved by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), a committee made up of representatives of different federal departments and agencies.

The legislation includes several provisions geared toward increasing accountability and transparency in reviewing foreign investment in the U.S. The Ports Security Act requires the federal government to solicit public comments while investigating proposed foreign investment in the U.S. The bill also includes specific provisions requiring Congressional, state and local government notification.

The bill also requires the president to conduct a study on existing foreign government-owned companies operating in US ports, and make recommendations to the Congress on how to appropriately handle any resulting national security risks within 30 days after the laws enactment.