September 11, 2001 : Attack on America
Congressional Record Senate Restoring Confidence in the Economy and Homeland Defense; October 30, 2001


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Mr. REID. Madam President, last week, late in the week, Senator BYRD and I held a press conference. The reason we held this press conference was to indicate that we believe we need to do something to restore confidence in the economy. We also believe that part of restoring confidence in the economy is making sure that homeland defense is something that is more than just words.

We are proposing things that cost money. It is great to talk about homeland defense, but if there is no money attached to it, it becomes a shallow promise to the American people.

Some of the things that Senator BYRD and I have talked about have to do with bio-terrorism. We believe there should be some prevention. Madam President, if you are going to have good, high-quality medical care, you have to have preventive medical care. The way to reduce costs and have a healthier public is to put our resources in the front end, not wait until everybody is sick and in the hospital. Bio-terrorism is no different. We need to have prevention and response. We need to have food safety initiatives. We have so few food inspections now. I believe I heard my friend from Iowa say, in a debate in this Senate Chamber last week, that about 1 percent of the food in our country is inspected. We need to do better. We need to make sure that State and local governments, who have responsibilities in this area, have some capacity to do that.

We believe there should be upgrades to State and local

health departments. We believe we have to take a look at hospitals to make sure there is enough hospital capacity.

We want to accelerate the purchase of vaccines. In America, this huge country of 270 million people, we believe we should have an adequate number of vaccines that are under the direction of the Centers for Disease Control. We need to make sure we have adequate supplies. If we do not use them, fine; but we should have them available. And to accelerate the purchase of these vaccines is going to cost money.

Antibiotics: We know we have an inadequate supply of antibiotics. We need to make sure there is a satisfactory supply of these antibiotics for all the problems that may arise. And that is true for other pharmaceutical supplies.

We need to make sure there is better security for our labs.

These things I have just enumerated will cost about $3 billion.

I came to Washington with Tom Ridge. He and I were in the House of Representatives together. I have maintained a friendship with him, including the time he was Governor of Pennsylvania.

A year ago, we traveled to Israel and the Middle East together, and we spent some time together. I have great respect for him as a person and for his abilities. But I truthfully say that I am not sure he is going to be able to do what is going to be required of him unless he has the resources to do it.

I had a meeting in with him last week. What he suggested was: Let me determine, first, what I need, and then I will come back and tell you what I need.

I am willing to do that. But I am not going to stand in the background and deprive him of the resources to do his job.

We have 40 agencies that collect intelligence. I believe we need a person who has authority to tell these entities what to do and what he needs from them. So I am willing to wait for a reasonable period of time for Governor Ridge to get back to us and tell us what he needs. But if this is going to go onto a program where they are going to try to do his job and not spend any money, then I am going to move forward and give him the tools I believe he needs.

I am willing to wait for him to tell me what tools he needs, but if I get nothing in the reasonable future, then I am going to go ahead and do something on my own.

In New York, we learned to do something that should have been done a long time ago; that is, to develop nationwide appreciation for the police officers and firefighters.

In my past, I was a police officer for a period of time here in Washington, DC. I have always had great respect for the police. But it was not until I went to the State legislature in Nevada that I developed the respect for firefighters that I have.

When I went there, they were trying to pass legislation.

One of the things they told us, that there were more people who die and are injured fighting fires than police officers who die or are hurt in the line of duty. Firefighters have all kinds of problems on a daily basis. This was exemplified by the tragedy at the World Trade Center when hundreds of firefighters died in that terrible attack. We need $6 billion to make sure the State and local antiterrorism investments are there for our police and fire departments. We need to have firefighting grants to allow local governments to have the capacity to train these people better. So for State and local antiterrorism investments for police and fire departments and additional firefighting grants, that figure is $1.6 billion.

We need to also recognize that the FBI needs more assistance. All Federal law enforcement needs help. That includes computer modernization, especially for the FBI. They need additional agents. They are working long hours and getting worn down since September 11. I am not going to state in the Chamber the numbers of people in the Las Vegas Customs office. To do so would be embarrassing to me and to our country. It is the same all over the country. We are asking the U.S. Customs to do all kinds of things legislatively that they don't have the staff to do. We need a huge additional amount of money to take care of Customs.

We know that the terrorists who came and did the acts of September 11 didn't come over the southern border we hear so much about. They came through the northern border. We need to make sure there is more funding for the Coast Guard, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and U.S. Attorneys. Our courts need more money, as does the U.S. Marshals Service. What I have

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talked about here, starting with the FBI, is going to cost us about $1.7 billion.

We know most of the time who comes into this country, but once they come here, they are lost in a maze of 270 million people. We need the Immigration and Naturalization Service to improve their tracking of people who are in this country and people who are on student visas. I believe we should do all we can to have exchange programs and have people study in our great universities. Out of the approximately 135 great universities in the world, 121 of them are in the United States. It is great we have people who want to come from other countries to study here. But we need to make sure that once they come here, they are not lost in the maze of people in the United States.

We need border enhancements, improved tracking of people, including people on student visas. This is going to cost about $1.5 billion. We know that airport security is going to cost more money, about $1 billion. Transit security is also important, $1.1 billion. We need to make sure there is adequate Federal security protection in Federal facilities such as nuclear plants and border facilities, national parks, and water projects. That will cost over $1 billion.

Enhancements for highways: I believe if we are going to have a real stimulus package in this country, we are going to have to do something with job creation. It is not going to be done all on the tax side. We have to create jobs.

For every billion dollars, for example, we spend on highways, we create 42,000 jobs. So much needs to be done with our highways. This would be an immediate pick-up, an immediate stimulus to our economy all over America, whether it is New York or Nevada or any of the other 48 States. There are projects that have been designed, and the only thing holding up the projects from going forward is money. We would create hundreds of thousands of jobs if we decided to spend $4 billion on these


We could easily spend $2.5 billion for enhancement of highways. We could allocate $2.1 billion for clean and safe drinking water projects. Indian Health Service clinics and other initiatives need to be taken care of.

There needs to be a direct, strong movement to restore confidence in our economy. One way we can do that is to create jobs. The other way, and they go together, is to restore confidence in our homeland defense.

I have discussed with Senator Abraham, Governor Ridge, the head of the FBI, and the head of the CIA the need to have a place for training people who are part of our counter-terrorism task force. I am very provincial in this. I understand that. But the Nevada test site, where we set off 1,000 nuclear devices over the years, is a place as large as Rhode Island. It has mountains, valleys, deserts, dry lakes. It has a facility already there for testing chemical spills. It has huge dormitories and restaurants. It is a place that is waiting for some activity.

In addition to that, if we want to test hardened silos that Saddam Hussein and people in Afghanistan have dug and built, we can use a network of tunnels that have been built there for nuclear testing over the years that are miles long. So as part of restoring confidence in the economy, we should have this national terrorism center.

I only hope that we all understand that it is extremely important we not walk out of here with a stimulus package that is driven solely by tax cuts. I acknowledge that there are certain things we can do that are important on the tax side. There are other things we need to do. We need to look at those people who have been displaced in the September 11 aftermath.

Senator Carnahan offered an amendment on the airline security bill. It was a good amendment that failed on a party-line vote. That is too bad. We need to make sure before we leave here that the Carnahan amendment passes. We must do that.

We also must recognize that people who have been displaced not only have problems of unemployment, but they have no health insurance. We have to do something to extend COBRA or somehow to take care of COBRA.

While we talk about these extended unemployment benefits, we have to understand that unemployment compensation is a bridge to nowhere unless there is a job on the other end of it. We have to make sure we do something about that.

I spoke last evening to Senator Nelson of Florida. I have spoken to the two Senators from New York and other States who have an interest in tourism. That includes at least 30 States that have tourism as the No. 1, 2, or 3 most important economic forces in their States. We have to boost tourism.

There has been general agreement that we should look at a program to give a tax credit to people who travel--short-term, of course. We need to take a look and see if we need to restore the deductibility for business meals to stimulate the economy in that regard.

Senator Dorgan and I introduced legislation last week that would look at the ancillary businesses inside the airline business, such as rental car companies and travel agencies. These people also need a shot in the arm.

If we walk out of here this year and don't take into consideration the fact that we need to restore confidence in the economy by creating jobs and making sure people feel good about our homeland defense issues, we will have made a big mistake.

I suggest the absence of a quorum.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.

The assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.

Mr. REID. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum call be rescinded.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


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