Mr. SANTORUM. Mr. President, I rise today to address the Dubai Ports World acquisition and the subsequent announcement to transfer operation of U.S. port terminals to a U.S. entity. Last week, my colleague from New York offered an amendment to S. 2349, the Legislative Transparency and Accountability Act of 2006. While the security of our ports is my foremost concern, especially as a Senator representing a State where one of the ports in question is located, I do not believe the time or the vehicle was appropriate for a vote on Senator Schumer's amendment. I have been a vocal critic of this transaction for weeks, but when my colleague's amendment was offered, Dubai Ports World had already resubmitted its application to the Committee on Foreign Investment, CFIUS. A second review of the transaction was pending. Furthermore, I had signed onto a bipartisan letter with Senator Schumer and eight other Members just the week before to the majority and minority leaders. In that letter, we expressed our desire to closely examine the facts that would be presented, and we retained our right to pursue legislative action after the review was completed should the outcome prove unsatisfactory.
Then, just last Friday, DP World announced their decision to transfer the U.S. port terminals acquired from Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company to a U.S. entity. While we are still seeking clarification of exactly what that means, my hope is that this decision will allay our concerns about this particular transaction. I expect a thorough review of this proposal by the appropriate agencies, and Congress assuredly has the will to act if concerns remain.
Should the immediate need for action disappear, Congress cannot ignore the underlying problems this acquisition has brought to light. First, we need to remain diligent in securing ports both domestically and abroad. Significant investments at foreign ports are critical. We cannot allow hazardous materials or weapons of mass destruction to enter our ports in the first place. By then, it could be too late. Second, Congress must undertake a comprehensive review of the CFIUS process. Chairman Shelby has already begun that process in the Banking Committee. I look forward to working with him and my colleagues to aggressively execute our oversight authority and expeditiously enact any reforms that may be necessary to ensure the safety and economic vitality of my State and this great Nation.
I ask unanimous consent that a copy of the above mentioned letter be printed in the RECORD.
There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in the RECORD, as follows:
UNITED STATES SENATE,
Washington, DC, March 3, 2006.
Senator WILLIAM H. FRIST,
Senator HARRY REID
DEAR LEADERS FRIST AND REID:
As you know, we recently joined together to introduce S. 2333, The Foreign Investment Security Act of 2006, a bill to require a 45-day CFIUS investigation and a Presidential determination regarding the national security implications of Dubai Port World's takeover of Peninsular and Oriental Steamship Navigation Company. This bill stemmed from our joint concern that allowing the takeover of U.S. terminal operations after only a cursory review raised serious national security concerns.
The President and the companies have now moved voluntarily to provide for such a 45-day investigation, and we are encouraged by that decision. Though some of us remain troubled about how this new review will proceed given the Administration's continued support of the deal, we have decided not to press for a vote on our bill at this time in the hope that this new investigation will be thorough, fair, and independent.
Nevertheless, several key components of our legislation have yet to be addressed namely, the notification to Congress and the ability of Congress to disapprove the deal within thirty days if security concerns are not met.
As a result, we write to ask for your assistance in guaranteeing that:
(a) the Congress is kept fully informed as the 45-day review progresses, and notified how security concerns are being investigated and addressed;
(b) the Congress is provided 30 days to review the results of the report including reasoning for the decision to either approve or disapprove of the deal; and
(c) once this 45-day review period is over, Congress reserves the ability to vote to disapprove the deal if the security concerns have not been adequately addressed.
We hope you will work with us and with the Administration to ensure that this review is a thorough, effective look at whether this deal truly poses a threat to our national security. If we need to press for a vote on our legislation or to introduce further legislation to achieve the goals outlined above, we hope you will work with us in the coming weeks. The Administration must know that we stand united to examine and review this deal independently, and that Congress must have a role in determining whether it should go forward or be stopped as a result of national security concerns.
Charles E. Schumer, Robert Menendez, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Jack Reed, Frank Lautenberg, Norm Coleman, Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, Dr. Tom Coburn, M.D., Rick Santorum, Members of Congress.