WASHINGTON – Democrats used their weekly radio address Saturday to scold the Bush administration over the Dubai ports management deal.
The address also gave a national stage to the party's candidate to replace former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, R-Calif., who was sentenced Friday to eight years and four months in prison for corruption.
Francine Busby, a school board member in a San Diego-area district, said Democrats want an immediate vote on the controversial ports deal, an increase in the screening of arriving cargo and more resources for the Coast Guard.
Congressional GOP leaders want to wait for the results of the administration's new investigation of DP World, a company owned by the government of Dubai, one of the United Arab Emirates, before considering legislation to delay or block it on security grounds.
The government initially approved DP World's $6.8 billion purchase of London-based Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co., which would let the company take over significant operations at six major U.S. ports. But last weekend, the Bush administration agreed to a 45-day investigation of potential security risks to quell a political backlash.
House Democrats tried to force a debate and vote on legislation Thursday that would require the 45-day security review and congressional approval of the takeover. That effort failed on a procedural, largely party-line vote.
"Given the record of this administration, 'trust us' is not a safe enough answer for the American people," Busby said, accusing the administration and Republican-led Congress of underfunding ports security and ignoring warnings on Hurricane Katrina.
"At our ports, like our borders, Americans expect and deserve a Congress committed to stopping people who are intent on breaking the law," she said.
Busby did not mention Cunningham in her broadcast but promised to be "an independent voice" in Congress. She faces several Republicans in a special election April 11 to replace Cunningham in the strongly Republican 50th Congressional District that takes in suburbs and beaches north of San Diego.
Cunningham resigned last year and pleaded guilty to accepting $2.4 million from defense contractors and others in exchange for steering government contracts their way.