Bush threatens veto as Republican leaders join intensifying fight against port deal

Published 22 February 2006

President George Bush, in an effort to contain a rapidly escalating rebellion among leaders of his own party, said yesterday that he would veto any legislation aiming to block a deal for a Dubai-owned company to take over the management of port terminals in six major U.S. ports, among them New York, Miami, and Baltimore. Were he to veto a putative congressional ban on the deal, it would be Bush’s first veto. The administration was stunned by the growing outcry against the deal, with the latest blow being public criticism by Senate majority leader Bill Frist (R-Tennessee) and the House speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Illinois). Both leaders said a thorough review of the deal and its security implications was necessary to ensure that terrorists could not exploit the arrangement to slip weapons into American ports. Bush suggested that the objections to the deal might be based on bias against a company from the Middle East.

”I will fight harder than ever for this legislation, and if it is vetoed I will fight as hard as I can to override it,” said Representative Pete King (R-N.Y.), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. King and Democratic Senator Charles Schumer of New York said they will introduce emergency legislation to suspend the ports deal.

-read more in David Sanger’s and Eric Lipton’s New York Times report