Visiting Memphis, Treasury Secretary talks about New York port deal

Treasury Secretary John Snow visited Memphis Thursday to talk about energy innovations and tour Sharp Electronics' solar panel plant. He ended up having to explain why his department approved a deal allowing an Arab government-owed company to run one of the busiest ports in the US.

Even though his department signed off on it, he says he didn't know about the deal until a few days ago.

"The reason we didn't know about it earlier is the fact that the professional staff of these agencies found no problems that required the engagement of people like myself," Snow said.

Members of Congress say the arrangement is a big problem for national security concerns, but Secretary Snow says there is no threat.

"They don't load containers they don't stuff containers they don't seal containers they simply move containers," Snow said.

Still lawmakers are not convinced.

"Right now, the legislative branch needs that same comfort level before we'll allow that contract to go thru," said Senate majority leader and Tennessee Republican, Bill First.

While Snow was in Memphis, his deputy and other top Bush officials were being grilled in hearings on Capitol Hill, setting up a fight to stop the contract before it even starts.

There isn't much time left for an investigation, the contract deadline is a week away. But lawmakers are promising to draft legislation to postpone the deal or kill it altogether, legislation President Bush has already said he will veto.