On the Floor Now: The National Security FIRST Act

February 28, 2007
Blog
From the "Current Legislation" section of this web site, which will keep you up to date on major upcoming legislation:

National Security FIRST Act

This week, the House will consider H.R. 556, the bipartisan National Security FIRST Act. The bill strengthens national security by reforming the interagency Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) process by which the Federal Government reviews foreign investments in the United States for their national security implications.

The National Security FIRST Act will strengthen national security by working to prevent foreign investments that would endanger our security from being approved. In early 2006, Americans were outraged by the secretive approval by the Bush Administration of a deal allowing a company owned by the government of U.A.E. to manage terminal operations at six major U.S. ports. Although the national security review process for foreign investments was clearly broken and the House and Senate each passed a bill, the GOP-controlled Congress failed to get a reform bill to the President's desk. Now, the Democratic-led Congress is determined to work quickly to get a strong, bipartisan reform bill signed into law. By reforming the interagency Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), the National Security FIRST Act fixes the key failures identified in the aftermath of the Dubai Ports World scandal, while ensuring the United States is able to continue to attract investment from other countries.

The bill requires CFIUS to conduct a 30-day review of any national security-related business transaction. After a 30-day review is conducted, CFIUS would be required to conduct a full-scale, 45-day investigation of the effects the business transaction would have on national security if the committee review results in any of the following determinations: 1) the transaction threatens to impair national security and these threats have not been mitigated during the 30-day review; 2) the transaction is a foreign government-controlled transaction and the CFIUS Chairman and Vice Chairman are unable to certify it poses no threat; or 3) the transaction prompts the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) to identify intelligence concerns that could threaten national security, and these threats have not been mitigated during the 30-day review. The bill also contains numerous other provisions to strengthen the CFIUS review process.

Click here to read the National Security FIRST Act >>

This bill is being considered under an open rule with a simple "pre-printing requirement," which means that all amendments are allowed to be offered so long as they are submitted in writing before the debate for the sake of transparency and so that all Members will know what they are voting on. Democrats are already establishing a record that shows they are keeping their word on increasing transparency and involvement of the minority party in an effective, open legislative process:

110th Congress

Time: 2 months

Open rules with no pre-printing requirement:1

Open rules with pre-printing requirement: 1

109th Congress

Time: 2 years

Open rules with no pre-printing requirement: 1

Open rules with pre-printing requirement: 2

UPDATE: Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank, who is managing debate on this bill, discusses the importance of the open rule: