9/11 RECOMMENDATIONS IMPLEMENTATION ACT -- (House of Representatives - October 07, 2004)
(BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT)
Mr. KIND. Mr. Chairman, I rise today in support of the Menendez substitute to H.R. 10, legislation to reform our country's intelligence agencies. I support this substitute so that as a country we can move forward quickly to a short conference and then give the President a completed bill to sign. The security of the people of western Wisconsin is of an utmost priority, and I am supporting measures that will make changes necessary to protect our homeland.
On September 11, 2001, our Nation was brutally attacked and several thousand of our citizens were killed. Our country was shocked and dismayed, but we were far from defeated. The resolve of our Nation is strong, and we stood up to the challenge and struck back.
After the attacks on that fateful day in September, many questions about our homeland security were raised. I supported and worked for a comprehensive Homeland Security bill that created the Homeland Security Department and cabinet level secretary. The creation of the Homeland Security Department was an important first step for our country to ensure the security of its citizens. But there remained many unanswered questions about our Nation's intelligence failures before September 11, which is why I supported the creation of the independent bipartisan 9/11 Commission.
On July 22, 2004, the 9/11 Commission provided a full and complete report to Congress and the American public. I praise the Commission for its excellent work, leadership, patriotism, and service to our country. We owe it to the families of the victims of 9/11 and to the citizens of our country to use this report to make certain this type of attack never happens again; I fully support the unanimous and bipartisan recommendations of the 9/11 Commission.
That is why I am a cosponsor of H.R. 5150, the Shays/Maloney bill to implement the Commission's recommendations. This legislation is the bipartisan companion bill to the Collins/Lieberman bill which just passed in the Senate on October 6, 2004, by a vote of 96-2. I am disappointed that House leadership has refused us the opportunity to debate this bill. Rather, today on the House floor we are debating a different 9/11 bill, which was drafted solely by the Republican leadership, which is not bipartisan, not supported by the 9/11 Commission members, or most of the families of the victims of September 11.
Regrettably, it is rare these days for Republicans and Democrats to come together and work toward the greater good of the country. But that is exactly what happened this summer when five Democrats and five Republicans on the 9/11 Commission voted unanimously on 41 key recommendations to make our country more secure. And, this October, it happened again when the Senate worked together to pass the Collins/Lieberman bill endorsed by the 9/11 Commission.
Unfortunately, in the House, intelligence reform has taken a turn in the opposite direction and we are being forced to debate and vote on a bill that is not endorsed by the 9/11 Commission.
H.R. 10 would strip power from the National Intelligence Director and the National Counterterrorism Center; it does not create an office to oversee civil liberties; and, H.R. 10 does not increase congressional oversight of our intelligence agencies. Further, this bill includes several provisions not recommended by the 9/11 Commission, including increased removal of immigrants without a hearing or review, and easing rules of the U.N. Convention Against Torture. Essentially, H.R. 10 strips away the 9/11 Commission's recommendations and adds language not endorsed by the Commission.
When the security of our country is at hand, politics should not play a part. But, again, here we are debating a bill without support from both sides of the aisle, and the will of the few is being forced upon the many. This is not the right way to make important changes for a nation's security. The partisanship of H.R. 10 will only delay making our country safer. We need to pass H.R. 5150, so it can be brought to the President's desk immediately, instead of further delaying the process by passing H.R 10.
But if the substitute fails, I have decided that for the purpose of moving this process forward to conference quickly I am going to support H.R. 10. When the safety of our country is at hand we need to be able to cross the aisle and work with our colleagues to protect our country. After passage of H.R. 10, I plan to work closely with the members of the conference committee on the 9/11 Commission Recommendation Implementation Act to more closely align the conference report with the Ð9/11 Commission's 41 recommendations and the recently passed Senate bill.
Mr. Chairman, the 9/11 Commissioners' recommendations are thorough and complete, and I stand behind them. Let us make our country safer now, not later. I urge my colleagues to support the substitute and the underlying bill.