Congress at Odds with Bush over Port Contract President Bush is standing behind a decision to let a Dubai-based company take over shipping operations at six major seaports in the United States. He says it will not jeopardize security. Congress isn't so sure.
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Congress at Odds with Bush over Port Contract

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Congress at Odds with Bush over Port Contract

Congress at Odds with Bush over Port Contract

Congress at Odds with Bush over Port Contract

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President Bush is standing behind a decision to let a Dubai-based company take over shipping operations at six major seaports in the United States. He says it will not jeopardize security. Congress isn't so sure.

RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

NPR's Brian Naylor reports.

BRIAN NAYLOR: But President Bush defended the deal.

GEORGE W: I think it sends a terrible signal to friends around the world, that it's okay for a company from one country to manage the port, but not a country that plays by the rules and has got a good track record from another part of the world--can't manage the port. And so, look, I can understand why some in Congress have raised questions about whether or not our country will be less secure as a result of this transaction, but they need to know that our government has looked at this issue and looked at it carefully.

NAYLOR: But many other political leaders are concerned. Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich, a Republican, met with reporters at the Port of Baltimore, one of those involved. He said that Maryland was not kept in the loop by anyone in the administration.

ROBERT EHRLICH: No one is happy with respect to notification or I really should say lack of notification here. The process did not work very well.

NAYLOR: Another Republican, Peter King, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committees plans legislation that would give Congress the power to block the deal. President Bush told reporters he would veto such a measure. If approved, his first veto ever. Democratic Senator Hillary Clinton of New York in a conference call yesterday called the veto threat very troubling.

HILLARY CLINTON: Because there is a bipartisan, bicameral concern about this. Asking the president to reconsider, allowing foreign governments to take over our ports and now we know that the president intends to proceed with this ill-advised contract.

NAYLOR: Jay Ahern, an assistant commissioner with United States Customs and Border Protection, said the impact of the takeover will not be as widespread as many seem to think.

JAYSON AHERN: These again, are just terminal operators within a port. These are not people that are running an entire port or responsible for the security of our entire port.

NAYLOR: Brian Naylor, NPR News, the Capital.

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