It's been a year since the Dubai Ports World (DPW) imbroglio. Tomorrow, Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., chairman of the House Committee on Financial Services, will convene the HCFS to ask the question: Have we learned anything? That's also what Rob Nichols and Gary Hufbauer are asking.
Frank's agenda includes putting a microscope on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). Calls for reforming CFIUS' approval processes paradoxically united many Republicans with Democrats, after the DPW deal-that-wasn't seemed to have taken everyone by surprise -- including the White House. He'll also examine H.R. 556, the "National Security Foreign Investment Reform and Strengthened Transparency Act of 2007," sponsored by Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y.
Nichols is president of the Financial Services Forum, and served as the U.S. Treasury's assistant secretary for public affairs under John Snow. He'll be testifying before the House committee tomorrow -- in favor of the legislation.
It may seem strange to some that a finance maven with Bush administration ties is backing investment regulation being put forth by an Empire State Democrat, but Nichols has a novel reason. He told CNBC's Michelle Caruso-Cabrera that enacting the regulation will actually streamline the approval process, via increased "certainty and predictability." He said that as matters stand, there is no single standard, and a gigantic "volume of [foreign investor] filings" has been generated -- and the staff handling them is "overwhelmed." But, he believes, if Congress approves a single bundle of regulations, it will keep the U.S. capital markets "open, competitive and robust."