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Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutions

Floor Speech

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Location: Washington, DC


STATEMENTS ON INTRODUCED BILLS AND JOINT RESOLUTIONS -- (Senate - September 27, 2007)

By Mr. BIDEN (for himself, Mr. GRAHAM, Mr. LEAHY, Mr. SCHUMER, Mrs. CLINTON, Mr. CRAPO, and Mr. MARTINEZ):

S. 2106. A bill to provide nationwide subpoena authority for actions brought under the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund of 2001; to the Committee on the Judiciary.

Mr. BIDEN. Mr. President, I rise today to the offer the Procedural Fairness for September 11 Victims Act, a simple bill that ensures procedural fairness for the parties to litigation arising out of the terrible events of September 11, 2001.

When we passed the September 11 Victims Compensation Fund of 2001, we established a Federal cause of action in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York as the exclusive remedy for damages arising out of the September 11 attacks. The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure effectively limit service of a subpoena by a party to an action under the Victims Compensation Fund to within 100 miles of the Southern District of New York. Litigating a Federal cause of action under the Victims Compensation Fund is likely to involve the testimony and the production of documents by a substantial number of witnesses who may not reside within 100 miles of the Southern District of New York. Neither the Victims Compensation fund statute nor the Federal rules, however, currently provide an effective means for securing such testimony or documents.

The Procedural Fairness for September 11 Victims Act addresses this oversight by allowing parties to Victims Compensation Fund actions to subpoena witnesses and documents from anywhere in the U.S. The court retains its authority to quash or modify any such subpoena if it is unduly burdensome to the witness subpoenaed.

Justice requires that the parties to cases arising under the Victims Compensation Fund have access to all the testimony and documents relevant to their claims, regardless of where in the U.S. the witnesses or documents are located. By granting the parties to such cases nationwide subpoena authority, administered by the Federal court, this act ensures that they do. As the bipartisan cosponsorship of the act attests, ensuring procedural fairness in these cases bearing on the terrible attacks of September 11 is not a Democratic issue or Republican issue, it is an American issue. I strongly encourages my colleagues from both sides of the aisle to join me and the other cosponsors of this important bill.

I ask unanimous consent that the text of the bill be printed in the RECORD.

There being no objection, the text of the bill was ordered to be printed in the RECORD, as follows:

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