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PORTS DEAL Lawmakers say they'll let probe proceed


Published: Wed, March 1, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.


The investigation is to look into security issues with the Dubai-based company.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Congressional Republicans and Democrats tempered calls Tuesday for an immediate vote to block a Dubai-based company's takeover of some U.S. port operations as President Bush prodded them to avoid a confrontation.
Returning to the Capitol in force for the first time since news of DP World's takeover broke, lawmakers from both parties criticized the White House for failing to let them know about the deal before it became public.
But many also said steps taken over the weekend by the White House and the United Arab Emirates company for a 45-day investigation of the transaction's security issues reassured them and negated the need for legislation for now.
"We should allow that to proceed," said Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, chairwoman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee.
Over the weekend, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., brokered a deal between the company and the Bush administration to agree to a new investigation of security issues related to DP World's plan to assume significant operations at six U.S. ports.
Republican leaders were looking to curtail a revolt by members of the president's own party, and by Tuesday it appeared they had succeeded.
"I'm very pleased where we are today," Frist said.
Legislation still possible
Some lawmakers, though, warned they would move forward with legislation if the upcoming 45-day investigation of security issues was cursory.
Rep. Peter King, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said he would file a bill that could give Congress an opportunity to block the deal if lawmakers are dissatisfied with the results of the security review. But he suggested he would not urge an immediate vote on it.
"It has to be a weapon held in reserve to ensure there is a real investigation," King, R-N.Y., told the Associated Press.
Although the new investigation has yet to begin, the president said he still supports DP World's plan to assume control of operations now handled by a British company.


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