Hoyer: Implementing 9/11 Commission Recommendations an “Enormous Step Forward” in Defending Our Nation

For Immediate Release:

July 27, 2007

Contact:Stacey Farnen Bernards
(202) 225 - 3130

 

WASHINGTON, DC - House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) spoke on the House Floor today in support of the 9/11 Commission Recommendations conference report.  Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:

 

"Mr. Speaker, this is a critically important day for this Congress - and, indeed, our nation.

 

"We have no higher duty than to protect the American people, to

defend our homeland, and to strengthen our national security.

 

"And, we know - nearly six years after the horrific attacks on September 11, 2001 - that Osama bin Laden and the al-Qaeda terrorist network continue to present a real, serious threat to the American homeland.

 

"In fact, the most recent National Intelligence Estimate, released just this month, states: 'The group [al-Qaeda] has been able to restore key capabilities it would need to launch an attack on U.S. soil: a safe haven in Pakistan's tribal areas, operational lieutenants and senior leaders.'

 

"Thus today, with this conference report implementing the recommendations of the bipartisan 9/11 Commission, we will be taking an enormous step forward in hardening our nation's defenses and combating - and eliminating - the terrorists who seek to harm us.

 

"For three years, the Commission's recommendations languished.  The Commission itself even gave the previous Congress five F's, 12 D's, nine C's and two incompletes for failing to implement these measures.

 

"Today, we make this top national security priority - the first major bill considered in this new Congress - a reality.  And, I believe we will adopt this Conference Report - which passed the Senate 85 to 8 - with strong bipartisan support.

 

"This legislation, among other things, will substantially improve our homeland security by:

  • significantly increasing the share of state homeland security grants provided on the basis of risk;
  • requiring scanning of 100 percent of maritime cargo containers by 2012, while allowing the DHS Secretary to request extensions;
  • requiring screening of 100 percent of air cargo within three years - and if the Transportation Security Administration cannot meet this goal, it must provide classified briefings to Congress on its progress;
  • withholding assistance to Pakistan for Fiscal Year 2008 until the President certifies that the Pakistani government is cracking down on the Taliban; and
  • significantly strengthening the Cooperative Threat Reduction (or Nunn-Lugar) Program; and creating a new National Bio-Surveillance Integration Center, which would support federal efforts to rapidly identify and track biological threats.

"Additionally, this Conference Report seeks to reduce extremism by enhancing the International Arab and Muslim Youth Opportunity Fund and establishing a Middle East Foundation that will promote economic opportunities, education reform, human rights and democracy in the Middle East.

 

"Let no one be mistaken: This legislation alone cannot immunize our nation from attack.  However, it represents an important step forward for our national security.

 

"As former Congressman Lee Hamilton, the co-chair of the 9/11 Commission, has noted:  'The bottom line is that when it [this legislation] is enacted and implemented, the American people will be safer.'

 

"That must be our objective.  And, it surely is our responsibility.

 

"I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support this important conference report."

 

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