Congress revisits foreign investment rules

KAI RYSSDAL: Not far from where Andy Stern and Lee Scott were talking about healthcare as the most pressing domestic issue, Congress was talking about foreign affairs. Foreign investment in U.S. companies, specifically.

If the phrase Dubai Ports World rings a bell with you, that's what the House Financial Services Committee was considering today. After that firm from the United Arab Emirates tried to buy some U.S. port operations from a British company, there were no less than 20 bills introduced in Congress to restrict foreign investment. None of them passed.

So now the House is taking up a compromise measure that would give lawmakers more control over how foreign deals are approved. David Marchick is a foreign investment analyst:

DAVID MARCHICK: One of the biggest problems in the Dubai Ports case was that Congress was blindsided by it. They had no idea the transaction was coming and they weren't briefed until it broke in the newspaper. That created a witches brew in the Congress. This bill gives Congress much more visibility into the foreign investment review process.

An official from the Treasury Department told the committee today its bill would cause more delays in approving foreign deals. There are some U.S. business groups that do support the proposal.

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.

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