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Expressing Sense Of The House Of Representatives On Fifth Anniversary Of Terrorist Attacks Launched Against The United States On September 11, 2001

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Location: Washington, DC


EXPRESSING SENSE OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES ON FIFTH ANNIVERSARY OF TERRORIST ATTACKS LAUNCHED AGAINST THE UNITED STATES ON SEPTEMBER 11, 2001 -- (House of Representatives - September 13, 2006)

Mr. KING of New York. Mr. Speaker, as the designee of the majority leader and pursuant to H. Res. 996, I call up the resolution (H. Res. 994) expressing the sense of the House of Representatives on the fifth anniversary of the terrorist attacks launched against the United States on September 11, 2001, and ask for its immediate consideration.

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Mr. KING of New York. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, 9/11, September 11, 2001, was a day unlike any in our history. It was a day which saw the worst tragedy befall our Nation. It was a day and the days thereafter which demonstrated the very best in America, the heroism, the courage, the willingness to fight back, the determination never again to allow ourselves to be attacked the way we were on that day.

Since that time, Congress has achieved a lot. The purpose of this resolution today was to show that we are not just going to lament what happened on September 11, we are not just going to mourn what happened on September 11, but we are going to lay the record out as to what has been done and what should be done. And, quite frankly, as the prime author of this resolution, we did not in any way attempt to make it contentious.

For instance, I really wonder why at this stage on the fifth anniversary of September 11 my friends in the opposition have chosen to draw the line on this resolution, when 2 years ago, in a bipartisan resolution which was overwhelmingly adopted, there were far more, if you want to call them, partisan matters included. I don't consider them partisan. But if they are applying the standard they are applying today to the 2004 resolution, where it went through so many items, as the war in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan, Libya, port security, border security, Terrorist Threat Information Center, going after financial assets, all of those matters, very few of which are mentioned in our resolution today.

But for some reason, I guess with election day less than 60 days away, they have chosen to say what was nonpartisan 2 years ago is extremely partisan today.

I regret that, because there is a lot that we still have to do as a Congress, but there is much we achieved, and I believe it is important for us not to just talk about the horror of September 11, but to chronicle for history what we have done, what we intend to do and let history be our judge.

That is why we included the PATRIOT Act, that is why we included the Maritime Security Act, the intelligence reform and port security legislation, because we do believe they are significant achievements by Congress.

Now, maybe history will show it was not right to break down the wall between the FBI and CIA, or it was not right to have to have intelligence reform, but I am content and I think we have an obligation to lay that out and let the American people decide and let history decide.

If we wanted to make this partisan, we could have certainly put in about the NSA electronic surveillance, which the overwhelming majority of Americans support because they believe it makes common sense to listen to the conversations of foreign terrorists. But because of the controversy of that, it was not put in. Nor was the SWIFT Plan, which was illegally disclosed by the New York Times. Did we include that in our resolution, even though that has also been extraordinarily effective?

As far as the issue of whether or not we are safer today than on September 11, both the chairman and cochairman of the 9/11 Commission say we are, the junior Senator from New York says we are, any number of people say we are. We can debate that. But I think it is certainly fair comment to put that in this 9/11 resolution.

Mr. Speaker, I will end on this before I finish my remarks. But I just want to say no one has any monopoly on grief in this Chamber. I lost well over 150 friends, neighbors and constituents on September 11, 2001. I spent all day Monday at cemeteries and commemorations and meeting with families.

I think it is really wrong to somehow attack this resolution as our attempt to be partisan. We could have found much more ways to be partisan if we wanted to. It was an attempt to come together. For whatever reason, the opposition has chosen to draw the line today on the fifth anniversary, when they could have done it 2 years ago. For whatever reason they decided now is the time. I think history will show they are wrong.

Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time

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Mr. KING of New York. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I would remind the gentleman from New Jersey that the resolution he voted for 2 years, the 9/11 commemoration resolution, specifically said that Iraq was part of the war on terrorism, that the capture of Saddam Hussein was part of the war against terrorism, all in the ``whereases'' clauses. It also cited the fact of port security achievements we had made there. It mentioned the Terrorist Threat Integration Center, all of which was there in that resolution 2 years ago, which for whatever reason they did not object to then.

And I would say one of the reasons we didn't put the immigration bill in the legislation 2 years ago, it was not passed until last year, and the 9/11 Commission specifically stated that addressing border security is a major element of homeland security

Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 1/2 minutes to the gentleman from California, the chairman of the subcommittee, Mr. Lungren.

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Mr. KING of New York. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I would remind my friend from Massachusetts, or at least suggest to him, that you don't have to agree with every word of every resolution to vote for it.

For instance, the overwhelming majority of Democrats voted for the 9/11 resolution 2 years ago, which specifically cited the war in Iraq as being an effective part of the war against terrorism. It also cited the arrest of Saddam Hussein and also cited the many accomplishments that had been made by Congress, and they voted for that then. For some reason they have now chosen to make this a very partisan issue.

Also, the gentleman said that Democrats have supported every recommendation of the 9/11 Commission. In fact, 152 Democrats voted against the REAL ID Act, which was supported by the 9/11 Commission.

And as far as the whole issue of the nuclear screening, even the Washington Post said that is nothing but a grandstand.

Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from Texas (Mr. McCaul).

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Mr. KING of New York. Mr. Speaker, again I would remind my friends on the Democratic side that the resolution that the overwhelming majority of them voted for 2 years ago, for instance, on the issue of port security, in the whereas clauses specifically cited the innovative programs which have done so much to make our ports more secure and to screen cargo. And, again, we don't have to agree with every aspect of every bill, but if it was good enough 2 years ago for them to cite it, I don't know why it suddenly now becomes such an extreme partisan issue.

Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from Connecticut, who I must say is an extremely strong and very independent voice and advocate for Homeland Security

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Mr. KING of New York. Mr. Speaker, I would just again remind my friends on the other side that we are definitely safer than we were on September 11. It is not just me saying that or the Republican majority saying that. It is the chairman and cochairman of the 9/11 Commission, people such as the junior Senator from New York who was saying that.

As far as our resolution, it certainly goes out of its way, and appropriately so, to extend the deepest sympathies to all those who lost their lives, to their family members and friends. It honors the heroic actions of the first responders.

If we made a mistake in drafting this resolution, it was I guess laboring under the misconception that the people on the other side would adhere to the same standards and principles that we set for ourselves 2 years ago when we adopted the 9/11 resolution at that time, which again goes into far more detail than anything we mentioned at all today.

And I would also mention to the gentleman from California who said that we should speak to the families of those who lost relatives on September 11. I spent Monday morning to night with those families, and I can tell you, after speaking with them, I am more proud than ever to have introduced and sponsored this resolution.

Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentlewoman from Florida (Ms. Ginny Brown-Waite), a member of the committee.

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Mr. KING of New York. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I would just urge my friends on the other side to perhaps read the resolution instead of just reading Democratic talking points.

The fact is there was nothing in this resolution at all that talks about the war in Iraq other than to commend the soldiers who are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, but the overwhelming majority of Democrats 2 years ago did vote for the resolution which said Iraq was an integral part of the war against terrorism. Again, I wonder why this disconnect between 2004 and 2006.

Also, the gentlewoman from California seems very concerned about the fact that bin Laden has not been captured. Yet, the leader of her party yesterday said that capturing bin Laden would have no impact on the security of the United States.

Also, talking of the families, as far as the impact this would have on the families, this resolution, I have talked to the families in my district, the Boyle family, the Haskell family, the Cain family, the Vigiano family, or the Howard family, or any of them, who I can assure you strongly stand behind this resolution

Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from Georgia (Mr. Price).

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Mr. KING of New York. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, quite frankly I have been both shocked and disappointed by the reaction we have seen on the House floor today. Not that we cannot have honest differences over the resolution, not that we cannot have honest differences about various whereas clauses. I have certainly voted for many resolutions where I did not agree with everything that was in there. I have also opposed certain resolutions because there was too much in there that I could not support, without questioning the motives and impugning the character of those who drafted the resolution.

Quite frankly, in working on this resolution and working with the Speaker and working with Members on the other side, the model that we tried to use in putting this resolution together was the resolution which was adopted 2 years ago which did have some contentious language in it, but quite frankly listed far more achievements, if you will, or far more actions taken by the Congress than ours did today.

What we did today was try to strike the balance by commemorating the memories of those who died, by honoring those who gave their lives, by expressing our deep sorrow and support and solidarity with the families who lost relatives on September 11 and lost friends on September 11.

[Time: 15:30]

And then also, not just rely on words but also to show actions, and lay out how we in Congress have tried to deal with the issues that involve homeland security and fighting terrorism.

We did avoid any reference to the war in Iraq, other than to say we support the men and women who are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. No mention at all of Iraq being part of the war against terrorism. No mention at all of the NSA electronic surveillance program. No mention at all of the swift program.

What we did was try to lay out exactly what Congress has done so it would be out there for history to see what we have done, what we have tried to do, where we have succeeded, perhaps where we haven't. I am content to let history be our judge.

But to somehow say this is part of some conspiracy or campaign, to me, it really does cheapen the memory of September 11. As I said before, no one has a monopoly on grief. I certainly lost many, many friends and neighbors and constituents on September 11, as did other Members of this body. And probably everyone here at least knows someone who died that day, or knows someone who knows someone who died that day or suffered from the horrific events of September 11.

I really thought on September 11 and September 12, 2001 that we would try to work together. This resolution is an attempt to do that, an honest attempt from the heart to do it. I am proud of this resolution. I urge the adoption of this resolution so we can send a message not just to those who died on September 11, to the families of those who died on September 11, but indeed a message to the world that we are united against Islamic terrorism. We are united as one to prevent another attack from ever occurring in this country. And there has not been an attack for 5 years.

And, yes, there is much more that must be done, that has to be done. We are safer than we were on September 11, but not as safe as we should be. There is so much more that we can do, but we have made this start. Let us stand behind what we have done together. Those honest differences that we have, let us treat them as honest differences and not try to make shameful partisan attacks.

So with that, Mr. Speaker, I urge adoption of the resolution, and I pray to God that we will find a way to come together and not resort to the type of cheap demagoguery that I think characterized the debate on the floor today

Mr. Speaker, I yield 28 minutes to the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Hyde), the chairman of the International Relations Committee, who will do so much to elevate the level of rhetoric on our side than what we have seen in the last half hour from me; 28 minutes to the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. Hoekstra), the chairman of the Intelligence Committee; and the balance of the time to the gentleman from North Carolina (Mr. Coble); and I ask unanimous consent that each Member be allowed to control that time.

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