WASHINGTON - House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer released the following statement today regarding House passage of the 9/11 Intelligence Reform bill:
"I am pleased that our friends on the other side of the aisle and the White House have finally resolved their differences on intelligence reform and that the Republican leadership is allowing the Members to vote on this important conference report.
"As Tom Kean, the Chairman of the bipartisan 9/11 Commission, stated after the Commission released its final report and recommendations in July: 'To sit in the face of another possible attack on the American people, when your primary responsibility is to protect the American people, is not acceptable. . . . Time is not on our side.'
"While I am pleased that we have arrived at this point today, let me state unequivocally that an issue of this magnitude – an issue that directly affects the safety of the American people and the security of this nation – should never be the subject of political calculation.
"As everyone in this body knows, this legislation could have been – and should have been – passed weeks ago.
"It not only enjoyed overwhelming bipartisan support in this House, but also in the Senate. And of course, the 9/11 Commission, victims’ families and the President supported it.
"With that said, I believe that this conference report is a significant step forward and that it will make our nation safer.
"The cumulative effect of the bill’s provisions – most notably the establishment of a National Counter-terrorism Center and the adoption of many of the Commission’s other recommendations – will facilitate cooperation and information sharing among the nation’s intelligence community.
"The inability – and, in some instances, the unwillingness – of some intelligence agencies to share information with one another, as well as other federal, state and local agencies, was highlighted by the 9/11 Commission as a major factor in the September 11th terrorist attacks.
"And it commanded this Congress to act.
"This legislation is not perfect, and will not by itself make our nation invulnerable to attack. However, it does demonstrate a willingness to learn the lessons from September 11th and take the much-needed steps to improve our ability to detect, prevent and respond to future terrorist attacks.
"This bill allows us to better fulfill our sacred duty to protect the American people."