Confrontation on the ports deal?

House Republicans plan to put an anti-ports-deal rider on the supplemental appropriation to pay for the war in Iraq.

Looks as if the 45-day investigation dodge may not work.

The Republicans in the House, desperate to distance themselves from the Beloved Leader on the ports deal, are going to attach a provision to kill the deal to the emergency appropriation for the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. GWB has threatened to veto any such bill, but of course he won’t want to veto that appropriation. So if the House stands firm and insists on keeping the provision in the bill that goes to the President’s desk, Bush would find himself in a corner.

My bet is that this is more Dingbat Kabuki. The House will vote overwhelmingly for the bill, the Senate will vote for a different version &#8212 thus giving everyone a chance to vote against the ports deal &#8212 and then the provision will get dropped in conference based on some vague promise from the White House.

Note that the provision as proposed is obnoxiously stupid. It would ban all foreign ownership of critical transportation infrastructure, as if an investor-owned company based in Great Britain were really no different from a state-owned company from a country that recognized the Taliban and whose rulers were Osama’s hunting buddies. I’d like to see the Democrats offer an amendment that would bar only companies that comply with the Arab boycott of Israel or are owned by or based in countries where that boycott has the force of law.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com