House Blocks Foreign Control of Airlines

The House voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to block a Bush administration plan to give foreigners more say in running U.S. airlines.

The action probably will delay the signing of an aviation treaty between the United States and the European Union until next year.

That agreement would allow European and U.S. airlines to fly wherever they want between European and the U.S., and charge whatever they want.

Supporters say the treaty will increase air travel, lower fares and create jobs.

The EU will not approve the treaty until U.S. law is changed to lift restrictions on how much control investors from abroad can have in U.S. airlines.

Some U.S. airlines, Congress and labor unions opposed more foreign control, fearing it would damage U.S. security and cost U.S. jobs.

That opposition delayed the hoped-for treaty signing in June.

Wednesday's vote - an amendment to a spending bill - probably push any signing to next year because the Senate is not expected to vote on it until after the November elections.

The Senate has voted to delay the plan as part of a different spending bill. But House and Senate negotiators last week quietly agreed to drop the delaying language.

Reps. Frank LoBiondo, R-N.J., Ted Poe, R-Texas, and James Oberstar, D-Minn., revived the effort to block the plan.

LoBiondo compared the effort to allow more foreign control of airlines with the administration's decision to allow the Dubai company DP World control of some operations at six American ports.

"I applaud my colleagues for standing up to protect our nation's critical infrastructure, as they did in the face of the proposed Dubai Ports deal," LoBiondo said in a statement.

The final vote for the amendment, which prevents the administration from changing the rules on foreign control of U.S. airlines, was 291-137.

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