WASHINGTON D.C. – House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (MD) joined House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Jim Turner (D-TX), Ranking Member on the Select Committee on Homeland Security, and other committee members today to brief reporters on a Democratic plan to address homeland security vulnerabilities. The following is Rep. Hoyer’s statement as prepared for delivery:
“As the Chair of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus for over a decade and as someone who fought hard for the creation of the FIRE Grant program before 9/11 tragically highlighted the important role first responders play in our communities’ safety, I would like to stress the urgency of the need to provide sufficient resources for our police, fire and EMS personnel.
“According to the Council on Foreign Relations report, ‘emergency responders will respond to crises with whatever resources they have.’ Having become extremely close to many first responders, I know that statement to be true, and it had tragic consequences for so many of them on September 11. We must never again allow them to rush to our rescue without the best equipment and training possible.
“We properly send our troops into battle with the most modern equipment and training available anywhere in the world – to do any less for the first responders who risk their lives serving their country on a daily basis is simply unacceptable.
“We come here today not to engage in a partisan attack on the President, nor to score political points on the gravely serious issue of homeland security. Instead, we are here to offer the American people an honest, somber assessment of the progress that has been made during the past two years to protect our communities from those who would do us harm.
“The Council on Foreign Relations said in its report that ‘the United States remains dangerously ill prepared to handle a catastrophic attack on American soil.’
“This Democratic proposal offers a plan to prevent terrorist attacks, improve security at our borders, harden domestic targets and prepare our communities to better respond in the aftermath of an attack.
“This is a call to action, and the safety of America depends on the Administration’s answer.”