Let's Put The DP World Deal To Rest
Who killed the deal?
A group of lawmakers from New York, led by Republican congressman Peter King and Democratic Senators Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer, initially attacked the port deal. But the real key was two weeks ago when both Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and House Speaker Dennis Hastert both spoke against it as well. “The bow is under water and all the deck chairs have slid to one side of the boat, and the cry comes out from Captain Hastert, 'Every man for himself!'" says a House Republican aide. "God bless Captain Hastert.”
That was the start of a number of Republicans questioning the the deal. Last week, in a meeting with members, GOP leaders learned what they largely already knew: almost no House Republican was for the deal. By Tuesday, House Majority Leader John Boehner, who had been one of the few Republicans not slamming Bush, said he hoped this issue would “go away.” The next day, with the support of House leaders, a House committee passed a bill 62-2 opposing the deal. That same day, Democrats in the Senate announced they would push a bill to end the deal as well. That led to GOP leaders telling Bush on Thursday morning that the deal was dead, which was soon followed by the Dubai company's apparent decision to follow Congress' advice as well.
What does this mean for port security?
Even if DP World isn’t in charge of a U.S. port, foreign companies still play a huge role in U.S. terminals. According to the Wall Street Journal, 60% of the container terminals at the nation’s 10 biggest ports are least partly managed by foreign operators. And that's unlikely to change, although Congress will oversee the process of awarding such contracts more carefully now.
Will Congress do anything to make sure such a deal doesn’t happen again?
What does this mean for President Bush?
Bush defended the Dubai agreement for two weeks, making Republicans, already weary from Hurricane Katrina and the failed nomination of Harriet Miers for a Supreme Court seat, again wonder about his political judgment. With Bush’s approval rating hovering near 40%, it’s likely GOP members of Congress will continue to look for issues on which to separate themselves from the president. That will make it even tougher for Bush to get any of his proposals through Congress. The bottom line is that this has started Bush's lame duck pursuit...so we just don't care anymore.