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9/11 Recommendations Implementation Act

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC


9/11 RECOMMENDATIONS IMPLEMENTATION ACT -- (House of Representatives - October 08, 2004)

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to House Resolution 827 and rule XVIII, the Chair declares the House in the Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union for the further consideration of the bill, H.R. 10.

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AMENDMENT NO. 8 OFFERED BY MR. CARTER

Mr. CARTER. Mr. Chairman, I offer an amendment.

The CHAIRMAN pro tempore. The Clerk will designate the amendment.

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Mr. CARTER. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Chairman, today I offer an amendment, the Terrorist Penalties Enhancements Act, which will provide new and expanded penalties to those who commit fatal acts of terrorism.

Since September 11, Federal and State officials continue to work hard to prevent further terrorist attacks on U.S. soil. However, despite some changes to the law to increase penalties after deadly terrorist attacks, a jury is still denied the ability to consider a death sentence or life imprisonment for a terrorist in many cases, even when the attacks result in death and the court believes it is necessary to prevent further harm to our citizens.

For example, in the case in which a terrorist causes massive loss of life by sabotaging a nuclear power plant or a national defense installation, there would be no possibility of imposing the death penalty under the statutes defining these offenses because they contain no death penalty authorizations. In contrast, dozens of other Federal violent crime provisions authorize up to life imprisonment or the death penalty in cases where victims are killed. Because the potential tragedy here is so great, we must hope that changing this law to allow a sentence of death or life imprisonment will serve as a deterrent to would-be terrorists. It is one more tool in our arsenal.

Mr. Chairman, hearings have been held on this straightforward legislation, and it has been agreed to by the House Committee on the Judiciary. It will make terrorists who kill eligible for the Federal death penalty. This legislation will also deny these same terrorists any Federal benefits they otherwise may have been eligible to receive. These Federal benefits denied include Social Security, welfare, unemployment and food stamps.

As a former State District Judge for over 20 years, I have presided over five capital murders trials, three of which resulted in the death penalty. I understand the gravity of seeking and imposing the death penalty. However, from my experience, I believe the death penalty is a tool that can deter acts of terrorism and can serve as a tool for prosecutors when negotiating sentences.

I am pleased that President George Bush expressed his support for this legislation. In a speech to the FBI Academy, President Bush said, "For the sake of American people, Congress should change the law and give law enforcement officials the same tools they have to fight terror that they have to fight other crime."

In Hershey, Pennsylvania, President Bush reemphasized the inequity in current law. President Bush said, "We ought to be sending a strong signal: If you sabotage a defense installation or a nuclear facility in a way that takes an innocent life, you ought to get the death penalty, the Federal death penalty."

This legislation today puts all would-be terrorists on notice that they will receive ultimate justice should they decide to plan and execute a future attack.

Mr. Chairman, I urge my colleagues to support this legislation.

Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. CARTER. Mr. Chairman, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. Green).

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Mr. CARTER. Mr. Chairman, I urge my colleagues to support this amendment.

Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.

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