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Public Statements

Homeland Security Act Of 2002 Amendment

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


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

At the outset, let me thank Chairman Thompson of the Homeland Security Committee and my good friend from New York, Congresswoman Clarke, for her strong efforts on this legislation, which is truly bipartisan. The addition of two additional cities makes it truly a national program in scope.

Madam Speaker, when we look at London, when we look at Madrid, it becomes clear that a very likely means of attack by terrorists in the United States would be from suburban areas into urban areas. And certainly in New York, which is the number one terrorist target in the world, enormous steps have been made to protect us against that type of attack, specifically a dirty bomb attack coming from outside the city through the highways, the parkways, the tunnels, the bridges, actually into Manhattan itself, which has already, as we know, devastatingly on September 11, also in 1993, been attacked by Islamic terrorists. But also a number of other plots against New York City have been thwarted.

New York City is definitely the main target in the country, but any number of other cities are as well. That is why I believe the program, which has been implemented in New York, can be a model for other cities throughout the country.

Now, I was very concerned last year when the administration decided to zero out all money for this funding in its budget. This was, I believe, a serious mistake. Fortunately, Congress, by appropriating $40 million in this House and finally $20 million when it came back from conference committee, did continue to fund this program, because we need these radiological detectors on the highways, the toll plazas, the bridges and the tunnels.

I have had the privilege of attending a number of these drills and training sessions when they are conducted. As Representative Clarke said, we're not just talking about New York City. We're talking about a large number of police departments and first responders--fight departments, EMS services--from not just New York City but from Long Island, from Connecticut, from New Jersey. We're talking about the State police, and we're talking about Federal support as well, seeing them all working together in a cohesive way to stop what would be the absolutely devastating impact of a dirty bomb attack, the human toll that that would take, the devastating economic impact it would have, the fact that it would make parts of the city unlivable for extended periods of time, and the fact that it would, in effect, cut off transportation into New York City.

All of these are reasons that we have to go ahead and continue with this Securing the Cities program. It's no guarantee, but it's another layer of defense that we need to protect ourselves against a terrorist attack.

As we know, the terrorists are constantly adapting, and we have to try to stay one step ahead of them. We have to always be on our guard. Actually, we have to be lucky all the time. They only have to be lucky once. We have to rely on more than luck. We have to have preparation, and we have to have a layered defense.

That's why I am so proud to support this legislation which will, in effect, almost set in stone the importance of the Securing the Cities program. We will expand it beyond New York City because, again, while Congresswoman Clarke and I feel that those of us in the New York area are the main targets, the fact is that a human life is a human life; an American life is an American life. Whether it's New York City or any other city in this country, any, certainly, major urban area, I believe this program is adaptable and compatible to those areas.

So I thank Congresswoman Clarke for her effort. I thank the bipartisan support that we have for this legislation, and I, certainly, strongly urge its adoption.

I yield back the balance of my time.


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