What: All Issues : War & Peace : Intelligence Agencies' Oversight : H.R. 556 The National Security Foreign Investment Reform and Strengthened Transparency Act/On motion to recommit with instructions (2007 house Roll Call 109)
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H.R. 556 The National Security Foreign Investment Reform and Strengthened Transparency Act/On motion to recommit with instructions
house Roll Call 109     Feb 28, 2007
Progressive Position:
Nay
Progressive Result:
Win

This vote dealt with a bill attempting to improve the security review required for foreign investments in the United States. A similar measure was first introduced last year after it was reported that the Bush administration had approved a deal allowing Dubai Ports World - a company owned by the government of the United Arab Emirates - to manage six of the largest ports in the United States. The deal was approved with minimal review by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). It went forward despite security concerns raised by the Homeland Security Department and without the input of key cabinet officials. (After widespread criticism of the way the deal was approved, Dubai Ports World eventually withdrew its bid.) This bill attempted to rectify those perceived security gaps by formalizing the role of the director of national intelligence in the CFIUS process, ensuring senior officials are involved in approving transactions and establishing more formal communications between the executive branch and Congress in order for the latter to provide adequate oversight. Although there was virtually no opposition to the general framework of the legislation, many Republicans protested the fact that they were prevented from offering their own amendments. Some Republican proposals dealt with the main thrust of the bill, such as three offered by Rep. Geoff Davis (R-Ky.) that incorporated suggestions by the White House to eliminate a requirement that CFIUS members approve deals by roll call vote. "Currently, the different agencies that make up the CFIUS committee work as a team until they arrive at a consensus view," Davis said during floor debate. "It is my understanding that the committee does not take roll call votes agency-by-agency on each transaction deal that is examined. The current CFIUS approach is much more holistic and fosters a team effort." This vote was on a Republican motion to recommit, which would have sent the bill back to committee with instructions to add the Republican-backed provisions. A largely symbolic vote, a motion to recommit with instructions is the minority's last chance to make substantive changes to a bill before a final up-or-down vote on the measure. All 226 Democrats presented voted against the motion to recommit, and all but three Republicans present voted for it. Thus, with a vote of 193-229, the measure failed. The bill then moved to a final vote, and it passed unanimously, demonstrating that Republican's objections to the details of the bill were not enough to prevent them from voting for a politically popular measure. Other Republican amendments highlighted issues, not related to national security, that Republicans believe serve to discourage foreign investment, such as tax, legal and regulatory burdens. The failure of the motion to recommit meant that Republicans in the House were shut out of their attempts to amend legislation to strengthen the process for national security reviews of foreign investments in the United States. The bill headed to the Senate.

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