EXPRESSING SENSE OF THE HOUSE ON ANNIVERSARY OF TERRORIST ATTACKS LAUNCHED AGAINST UNITED STATES ON SEPTEMBER 11, 2001 -- (House of Representatives - September 09, 2004)
Mr. HYDE. Madam Speaker, pursuant to the previous order of the House, I call up the resolution (H. Res. 757) expressing the sense of the House of Representatives on the anniversary of the terrorist attacks launched against the United States on September 11, 2001, and ask for its immediate consideration in the House.
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Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. Mr. Speaker, I thank my good friend for yielding me time.
Mr. Speaker, most Americans can tell you precisely where they were and what they were doing 3 years ago when the grim news broke that the terrorists had crashed commercial jet liners into both towers of the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and in a field in Pennsylvania. Sadly, approximately 3,000 innocent people were savagely murdered, including 697 from my own State of New Jersey, with 60 families in my congressional district feeling the pain directly.
The extraordinary courage of the victims like Todd Beamer and Captain Chip Burlingame and so many others who sacrificed their lives in an attempt to thwart the terrorists' plots and plans, as well as the first responders who bravely ran into burning buildings, deserve the highest honor and respect a Nation can bestow. Sadly, some 374 first responders died going into skyscrapers as they were engulfed in flames. They died trying to save those who were victimized by the 9/11 attackers.
Last week, President Bush very eloquently summed up America's heart and spirit when reflecting on 9/11. President Bush said, "I have seen the character of a great Nation, decent and idealistic and strong." President Bush went on to say, "The world saw that spirit 3 miles from here," he was speaking at the Garden, "when the people of this city faced peril together and lifted a flag over the ruins and defied the enemy with their courage. My fellow Americans, for as long as our country stands, people will look to the resurrection of New York City and they will say here buildings fell and here a Nation rose."
9/11, Mr. Speaker, was America's wake-up call that transnational terrorism, especially from the likes of al Qaeda, is willing and able and determined to murder us in a massive way. Much, however, has been done by the President and by the Congress to mitigate that threat in the 3 years since 9/11.
We now know that the President, working with our coalition partners, has captured and destroyed many of the al Qaeda operatives, and the Taliban has been crushed, and we have now entered into a close collaboration with partners like Pakistan and the United Kingdom.
Much has been done to assist the victims' families, but no assistance, as we all know, can ever remotely replace their staggering loss. Still, when all is said and done, the victims' compensation fund, while not perfect, will have provided close to $7 billion to the surviving families. We also know that the Federal government has provided about $26.7 billion thus far, which has been awarded to enhance the abilities of State and local governments and first responders to prevent, prepare for, and respond to acts of terrorism and other emergencies.
Much has been done to reform our defenses, including the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, no small feat, particularly in this town, to do such a massive reorganization. And the Terrorist Threat Integration Center now has the left hand talking with the right hand so that intelligence is properly shared. We are all on the same page.
For its part, the 9/11 Commission, a commission created by the families of 9/11, declared that "we are safer," but they also pointed out that we are "not safe". Over the course of the August district work period, some 26 hearings were held to respond to and to try to figure out what a new comprehensive reform bill should look like, and I want to thank the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. HYDE), chairman of the Committee on International Relations, for the two outstanding full committee hearings he put together. We are now poised to act on those recommendations, and in some cases, we may opt to exceed the 9/11 blueprint.
Finally, let us all remember, if this is an extremely difficult week for us, the sense of collective violation pales compared to the pain of the families who lost their loved ones, their wives and husbands, their children, their brothers, their sisters. For them, this is the toughest week and September 11th-the saddest day. This is a day of remembrance, a week of remembrance, and our prayers and our hearts go out to the victims' families and friends, because they have lost so much and have stood up so bravely in the years since.
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