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Foreign Investment And National Security Act Of 2007

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

FOREIGN INVESTMENT AND NATIONAL SECURITY ACT OF 2007 -- (House of Representatives - July 10, 2007)

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Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman for her leadership on this bill.

This legislation began last year when she was the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Domestic and International Monetary Policy, which you, Mr. Speaker, now chair, and in a bipartisan way we've brought forward this bill.

A brief history here. The administration, I think, made an error in granting authority to the company, Dubai Ports World, to take over seaports. They should have anticipated the reaction.

I think it was a mistake to let Dubai buy those ports and I'm glad that that was dropped, but I think there was an overreaction. Foreign direct investment is a very good thing for our country. It is a source of jobs.

I remember when I first came here in the early 1980s one of our major goals on the Democratic side, with a lot of Republican support, was to get more foreign direct investment. We had a bill we called the domestic content bill. It was to require that a certain percentage of each car sold in America be made in America, and the purpose of that was frankly to help get Japanese, at that time, automakers to come here.

People should understand foreign direct investment means we're talking direct investment as opposed to buying our bonds or buying financial instruments. It means putting money in here that creates jobs, and it ought to be something welcomed. In a few cases, there could be a problem, but the general rule should be that we welcome foreign direct investment.

Now, after the Dubai Ports and the reaction to it, concern grew in the rest of the world that we were not fully supportive of foreign direct investment, and there was this view that we had scared it away. I mention that because there are some who have incorrectly reported this bill, the CFIUS bill as we call it, the bill giving statutory reform to the Committee on Foreign Investments in the U.S., as an effort further to restrict foreign direct investment. That is the exact opposite of the truth.

We've worked very closely here, not just with the Secretary of the Treasury, Mr. Paulson, a great supporter of foreign direct investment, but also with the Financial Services Forum headed by the former Secretary of Commerce, Don Evans. He's been a real leader in this effort.

This is an effort by the Congress to make clear that we welcome foreign direct investment as a rule, but we will have procedures in place to prevent those exceptional examples where it might be problematic, where it might cause a security problem.

So I, again, want to stress this is the Congress of the United States reaffirming that foreign direct investment is a good thing for our economy, and it is our belief that the structure we have set up will help move things quickly.

By the way, Mr. Speaker, people won't be required to go through the CFIUS process, but they will be given assurance if they do that they can go forward. Now, that's very important for people making investments. So this is a wholly supportive operation, and I thank the gentlewoman from New York and the gentlewoman from Ohio who have worked hard on this; the minority whip, the gentleman from Missouri, who is one of those who helped lead the fight for this. This is a genuine bipartisan bill. We passed it last year, and it's something that I know you will find it hard to believe, Mr. Speaker, after we passed the bill, somehow the United States Senate was unable to do that. I know that will cause some surprise to you, but there we are.

This year, it's different. We passed the bill, and the Senate under the leadership of the Senator from Connecticut, Mr. Dodd, has passed a very similar bill, not identical, but they're close. I prefer in a few details what we have, but given the nature of the legislative process, we thought the best thing to do in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and with both parties was to accept the Senate version.

So this is accepting the Senate version, but we're accepting the Senate version of our version because what the Senate did was to make some fairly small changes in the bill that we adopted last year.

Now, with that, Mr. Speaker, I'm ready to yield. My understanding is that the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, who is concerned about this bill, wanted to raise a technical point. So I would ask the gentlewoman from New York if she would yield to the gentleman from Missouri for the purposes of his and I having a colloquy.

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Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts. Mr. Speaker, if the gentleman would yield to me, I would say that I share the chairman of the Armed Services Committee's desire that the intent of Congress be clear. I also note the chairman has identified a technical error in the Senate amendment which should be corrected involving required reports of presidential decisions. I will work to accomplish a correction of this error, and I agree with the gentleman's statement of what the legislation intended and in the specific incidents that he cited.

Mr. SKELTON. Well, I certainly thank the chairman. I agree that there is a technical change required in the bill to ensure that Congress' intent be followed. I note that one good opportunity for making this technical and clarifying change to this bill will come during the House-Senate conference on the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2008. Will the chairman work with me to ensure that this technical and clarifying change can be made to this bill, including having it considered during the conference on the National Defense Authorization Act?

Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts. If the gentleman would yield to me, I'm glad to say, yes, I will work with the gentleman to ensure that this technical and clarifying change is made, and I agree with him the best way to do that is through the conference on the National Defense Authorization Act.

And while this technically falls in the jurisdiction of the Financial Services Committee, I am deviating from the script I was given to say that I think the besetting sin of this place is an excessive concern about turf. The people who put jurisdiction ahead of substance really should think better.

So I am delighted to be able to provide an example of intercommittee cooperation with my very good friend whom I admire, the gentleman from Missouri, and I will look forward to his correcting this error in that conference with the blessing, I believe, of our committee.

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