Thursday, March 16, 2006

Port Security: GOP Really Doesn't Get It

Via Kevin Drum, and a report from ThinkProgress, I was interested, and literally angry, to learn that House Republicans blocked a budget resolution amendment today that would have provided money for U.S. customs agents to inspect high-risk cargo at overseas ports which ship directly into this country, and to set up radiation monitors at all U.S. ports. The amendment was sponsored by Martin Sabo (D-MN); all 194 House Democrats who were present and voting supported it, while 210 of 222 House Republicans present and voting opposed it, enough to defeat it on a tie vote.

Were House GOPers simply worried about the money involved ($1.25 billion)? Not hardly, since they are in the process of approving a $781 billion increase in the public debt limit.

This is an especially outrageous vote in the wake of widespread concerns about port security raised by the aborted Dubai Ports World lease of U.S. port operations. But it does explain one thing. Bush's reaction to the firestorm raised by disclosure of the Dubai deal was to angrily accuse his critics of anti-Arab and/or anti-Muslim prejudice. Maybe he did that because mere prejudice was precisely what he was hearing from his congressional Republican allies. Presumably most of the House Republicans who voted against beefed-up port security today were also lined up to oppose the Dubai deal. And clearly their motivation had little or nothing to do with national security.

UPDATE: Not that it matters much to the underlying argument, but the Sabo Amendment was offered not to the congressional budget resolution, but to the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations for war costs and hurricane recovery. The ultimate bill did not, BTW, include significant new money for levee construction in New Orleans.
-- Posted at 8:58 PM | Link to this post | Email this post

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