- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 9, 2006

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Resistance to foreign ownership of U.S. port operations spilled over into the aviation arena when a congressional committee told the Bush administration to postpone a plan to allow more foreign control of domestic airlines.

The House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday passed a resolution directing the Transportation Department to hold off for 120 days its proposal to give foreign investors in U.S. airlines more latitude to influence management decisions.

“The committee believes that the U.S. aviation industry is part of our critical infrastructure as are the ports,” said the resolution, which passed by voice vote and doesn’t have the force of law.

The Republican-controlled Congress rebelled against President Bush by threatening to block a Dubai-owned company from taking over operations at several U.S. ports. The company said yesterday it would transfer the U.S. operation to an American entity.

The port controversy sparked opposition to a proposed regulation that would give foreign airline investors more control over marketing, flight routes and what kinds of planes to fly. Non-U.S. citizens couldn’t own more than 25 percent of a U.S. airline’s voting stock.

The Transportation Department said yesterday that its proposal “would require U.S. citizens to maintain control of all decisions affecting the security, safety and national defense obligations of domestic airlines.”

Reps. Frank A. LoBiondo, New Jersey Republican, and James L. Oberstar, Minnesota Democrat, are sponsoring legislation backed by 158 other members to prevent the regulation from going into effect for at least a year and to give Congress the right to veto it.

Democratic Sens. Frank R. Lautenberg of New Jersey and Daniel K. Inouye of Hawaii sponsored a similar bill.

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