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National Security Foreign Investment Reform and Strengthened Transparency Act of 2006

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Location: Washington, DC


NATIONAL SECURITY FOREIGN INVESTMENT REFORM AND STRENGTHENED TRANSPARENCY ACT OF 2006 -- (House of Representatives - July 26, 2006)

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Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman. She and the gentleman from New York (Mr. Crowley) and others on our committee on both sides of the aisle worked constructively on a good bill. I appreciate the kind words of the majority whip.

There was a threatening climate towards foreign direct investment a few months ago as a result of the reaction to the Dubai Ports. I thought it was a mistake to allow Dubai to be able to buy those ports, but I did think that the reaction against that threatened to jeopardize a very important source of support for the American economy, and that is foreign direct investment.

There was among some of our colleagues a kind of reaction to say, ``We don't want them bringing their money in here and investing in America.'' That was unwise, and I think cooler heads on both sides of the aisle have prevailed, and we have a bill that recognizes that foreign direct investment, the foreign investment in building plants and running enterprises in America, is a good thing.

Many Americans complain when American corporations invest their money in physical facilities overseas. Well, it then does not make sense to complain about the reciprocal. Yes, we want to make sure that nothing is done that jeopardizes our security.

I think we have a bill today that improves the situation without any kind of drastic change of a sort that would have endangered foreign direct investment, and I have to say there was a terrible mistake made by the Bush administration, in my judgment, in not shutting down the Dubai Ports thing before we got to it.

I do think we should be very clear, though, we have to differentiate between laws which are badly administered and laws which are badly structured. We have had cases, in my view, where this administration has messed up on a number of occasions. I think they badly handled Katrina. They made a terrible mistake with Dubai, but if we were going to drastically wrench out of shape every law that this administration administers poorly, we would not be taking an August recess. That would keep us busier than we already are.

What we have to do is make a separation. We have to be able to differentiate between the incompetence of an

administration and a structural failing in the law.

Now, we have done that in this case. I understand the bipartisanship extends here to the restructuring, in a reasonable way, in the law and not to recognition in my part on the incompetency of the administration. I do not mean to include my colleagues in saying that, but I do think this is the principle we have tried to follow on our side.

When this administration messes something up, we should not overreact and wrench the structure out of shape. We should make those structural changes that might be called for. That is what we are doing here, and we are preserving the role that foreign direct investment can play in the United States. We can express the hope that this administration in its remaining time will not misadminister this as badly as they did before.

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Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts. Mr. Speaker, I would just like to note that I agree with what the chairman has just said. But this is not the first example of a bill coming out of the Financial Services Committee on a subject which could have been very contentious but, in fact, came to the floor in a form that reflected a very good process, a very open process, with hearings and subcommittee, committee markups, and full participation and, as a result, received overwhelming votes.

We saw this on the GSE bill, we saw it in the bill dealing with the extension of credit, called the FACT Act, and we have seen it on a number of bills, and the chairman deserves a great deal of credit on this. And as his career here draws to a close, I just want to note that this is a very good example of the chairman's willingness to help us bring out the best in ourselves in this process.

And he is correct, this could have been the source of a lot of demagoguery, a lot of political sniping, of frankly some destabilization to the economy because of the negative impact a badly handled bill could have had. So I just want to acknowledge that as the ranking member, it has been my privilege to work with the gentleman from Ohio, and this is only one of a series of bills where we have worked together, under his leadership, to take subjects that, as I said, could have been contentious and destabilizing, and brought the House a product with overwhelming support.

I thank the gentleman for yielding.

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