Bush has said that he will veto any bill that prevents him from turning US ports over to Dubai. After tonight, I think the House has the votes to overturn a Bush veto.
In a congressional election-year repudiation of President Bush, a House panel dominated by Republicans voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to block a Dubai-owned firm from taking control of some U.S port operations. Democrats clamored for a vote in the Senate, too.
By 62-2, the House Appropriations Committee voted to bar DP World, run by the government of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, from holding leases or contracts at U.S. ports. The landslide vote was the strongest signal yet that more than three weeks of White House efforts to stunt congressional opposition to the deal have not been successful.
Bush has promised to veto any such measure passed by Congress. But there is widespread public opposition to the deal and the GOP fears losing its advantage on the issue of national security in this fall's elections.
"This is a national security issue," said Rep. Jerry Lewis, the chairman of the House panel, adding that the legislation would "keep America's ports in American hands."
As the committee acted, Democrats on the other side of the Capitol maneuvered for a vote in the GOP-led Senate.
Republican leaders are trying to block a vote on the ports deal through a procedural vote that could occur as early as Thursday. That tactic is likely to fail, which could prompt Republicans to pull a lobbying reform bill from the floor in order to avoid defeat on the ports measure.
"We believe an overwhelming majority will vote to end the deal," said Democrat Charles Schumer of New York, whose attempt to force the issue to the floor brought the Senate to a late-afternoon standstill.
Congressional supporters of the deal "are few and far between," conceded Sen. John Warner, R-Va., an administration supporter.
Like I said last night, this is all about reading polls, and the House GOP will buck Bush on this because they need to. In the Senate, there are fewer GOP incumbents up for reelection this year, which is not the case in the House. And the House GOP is deathly afraid of Nancy Pelosi outflanking them to their right on national security.