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[Congressional Record: October 24, 2001 (Senate)]
[Page S10917-S10919]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access []
                     REMAINING A SENSE OF SECURITY

  Mr. BYRD. Mr. President, this morning the U.S. Postmaster General 
warned Americans that their mail is not guaranteed to be safe.
  The American people have been on an emotional roller coaster ride 
ever since September 11. In the days and weeks following the terrorist 
attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the American people 
collectively have experienced a national anxiety attack--fear, remorse, 
outrage, despair, confusion, depression, and unease have all manifested 
themselves in recent weeks.

  Before the brutal terrorist attacks of September 11, American 
consumers were already nervous as layoff announcements rolled out of 
auto factories, and stock market retirement savings dissipated into 
thin air. Since that dark day, the economy has grown even more unstable 
as consumers, seized with fear--Franklin D. Roosevelt said, there is 
nothing for us to fear but fear itself, but fear is here, and it 
permeates throughout this city and throughout the Nation--consumers, 
seized with fear, have stayed riveted to their television sets and away 
from shopping malls.
  American consumers have postponed taking that much-deserved family 
vacation out of fear of getting onto an airplane. I would share that 
same fear. I know it is all right for some to say, go ahead and ride an 
airplanes if you have the Secret Service there to protect you and you 
can go on a special plane, but I would not ride on a commercial plane 
right now because I share that fear. Consumers are shunning 
restaurants, avoiding movie theaters and other public gathering places 
which they fear might be the target of new terrorist attacks.

  Although the initial shock has begun to wear off, and economic 
activity has recovered somewhat from the weeks immediately following 
the terrorist attacks, nearly 200,00 Americans lost their jobs last 
month--the largest monthly decline since February 1991, more than 10 
years ago--and the unemployment rate is expected to soar to well over 5 
percent in this month alone. This on top of the fear that has kept 
people away from the streets of Washington.

  Just a few days ago, I recall, Metro was offering free tickets to 
people in the suburban areas in an attempt to entice them to come into 
the city of Washington and go to the restaurants and go to the stores. 
And the restaurants were offering free food in some instances or a free 
glass of wine to encourage people to come into this city, the Capital 
City, which was burned by the--I hope the distinguished Senator from 
Massachusetts will wait just a moment. I want to mention something he 
will remember.
  This Capitol was burned during the War of 1812 by the British. It is 
practically empty now. The Senator from Massachusetts will remember, 
with me, something that was occurring in this city 39 years ago right 
now. I was here on October 22, 1962--1962 or 1963?
  Mr. KENNEDY. It was 1962.
  Mr. BYRD. The late President John F. Kennedy delivered an ultimatum 
to the then-leaders of the Soviet Union to get their missiles out of 
Cuba. That was on Monday of this week, 39 years ago. We Senators then 
felt the same angst that we do now.
  The President, in a television address, delivered this ultimatum. 
President Kennedy also suggested that there be regional meetings where 
we Members of Congress--I was a Member of the Senate--could go to 
regional meetings and get briefings. The Senate was not in session. The 
Senate had gone out of session on the October 13 sine die. And the late 
President John F. Kennedy informed Members of Congress that he would 
give them notice to come into Washington if the necessity arose.
  There was fear throughout the land. That was 39 years ago this week. 
On Sunday of this week 39 years ago Nikita Khrushchev capitulated to 
President Kennedy's demand that those missiles, be pulled out of Cuba.
  President Kennedy instructed our naval ships to stop any ship that 
approached Cuba and to search that ship. And there was a ship that 
approached Cuba. I forget what flag it was flying, but our naval units 
stopped it, searched it; and when we finally determined that Nikita 
Khrushchev really meant what he said, that he would get those missiles 
out of Cuba, then we relaxed.
  I had no intention of bringing my wife into this city during those 
days. They were very tense days. The people were not just thinking of 
anthrax; they were thinking of nuclear war. We had strong leadership--
strong leadership--that laid it down to the Soviet leaders. Mr. 
Khrushchev, who had once beaten his shoe upon the desk and said: We 
will bury you--that was Khrushchev--he was soon relieved of his 

[[Page S10918]]

position in the Soviet Union. Mr. Brezhnev then became the First 
Secretary, and who Nikolai Bulganin who became the Premier of the 
Soviet Union. But those were the conditions 39 years ago right now in 
this city.
  Well, fortunately, we are not facing what appeared to then be perhaps 
an immediate nuclear attack on this country. And some of the nuclear 
missiles could have emanated from Cuba. Here we are again now, and we 
have received a terrorist attack on the World Trade buildings in New 
York City and on the Pentagon. We are faced now with an even more 
subtle and sinister attack on the people in this city. As I said 
earlier, the Postmaster General indicated just this morning that the 
American people cannot be guaranteed their mail is safe.

  I say to my wife--my wife of 64 years, I hasten to add--Don't you go 
to the mailbox. Leave the mail in that box until I come home. I will 
get the mail out of the box.
  That is the kind of fear that is permeating this whole country, this 
whole city, this whole complex from which I speak today.
  Our staffs are warned about the mail that comes to us from our 
constituents. It may be a letter, a package, something that was not 
sent by a constituent in our mail. So our staffs are in fear.
  The unemployment rate is expected to soar to well over 5 percent in 
this month alone. The Congress will soon consider a stimulus plan. It 
is being discussed. Preparations for such a plan are going forward. I 
have had my Appropriations Committee staff working on a stimulus 
package, one that will include funds for homeland security, homeland 
defense. This stimulus plan is aimed at providing a shot in the arm to 
our flagging economy.
  We hear a lot about business tax cuts. I have already voted against a 
gargantuan $1.3 or $1.6 or $1.8 or $2 trillion tax cut earlier this 
year. Now we hear that there are going to be further tax cuts. A 
measure is making its way in the House of Representatives, I 
understand, that would provide up to $100 billion in tax cuts and 
almost $200 billion, $195 billion over 10 years. Business tax cuts, 
increased unemployment benefits, subsidized health insurance premiums 
are all on the table. But none of these--none of these--will help to 
assuage the psychology of fear that grips this land of ours.
  The surest way to stabilize the economy and encourage Americans to 
get back on airplanes, to go back to the shopping malls, to go back to 
the automobile dealerships--look over those shiny automobiles, kick the 
tires, see if the windshield wiper works, raise the lid of the trunk--
the way to get people back to those dealerships, the way to get people 
back to those neighborhood restaurants, the way to get people back to 
the movie theaters and to take their children is to take positive steps 
to address their fears, the fears of the American people about future 
terrorist attacks.
  I might as well talk about this fear. We all know it is here. The 
distinguished Senator from Florida, who is a former astronaut, who 
presides over the Senate today with such a degree of skill and dignity, 
he knows this, he knows what we are talking about. The people at the 
desk here in front of us, this is no secret to them; they know what 
fear is. The pages know about it. Why not say it?
  The best way to make our people feel safe again and to defeat the 
intentions of the terrorists is to go ahead with this stimulus package, 
certainly to move ahead with funding for homeland security in its many 
  We can start by addressing our woefully inadequate border security; 
put more Immigration and Naturalization Service personnel on our 
borders; put more Customs agents on our borders; enhance this woefully 
inadequate border security. I doubt that many Americans find comfort in 
learning that the Immigration and Naturalization Service cannot account 
for how 6 of the 19 hijackers involved in the September 11 attacks 
got into the United States. Likewise, how much comfort do the American 
people find in knowing that the U.S. Customs Service--get this now--
inspects only 2 percent of the cargo that enters the United States? We 
are wide open--wide open. And the terrorists have known that. As a 
matter of fact, we have been lucky not to have been hit many times 
prior to September 11.

  We can reassure the American people that the Government of the United 
States is doing all it can to prepare for a biological or chemical act. 
The American people have learned firsthand in recent days that chemical 
and biological weapons are no longer the stuff of fiction but are real 
threats that can suddenly claim the lives of American citizens. We must 
train our doctors and nurses to diagnose and care for victims of 
bioterrorism as well as to contain any possible resulting outbreak.
  We must expand our Nation's reserve of vaccines and antibiotics, and 
we must provide our local health departments, in Beckley, WV, 
Parkersburg, Clarksburg, Martinsburg, in cities all throughout this 
land, in towns all throughout this land, in hamlets all throughout this 
land, provide our local health departments, so many of which are in 
rural isolated areas, with access to the Nation's computerized networks 
of medical response information.
  Our Nation's transportation network faces a similar daunting upgrade. 
In the days immediately following the September 11 attacks, airport 
security was improved, but much remains to be done. New scanning 
equipment must be built and installed as quickly as possible. Better 
trained inspectors must be hired. Security enhancements must be made at 
our Nation's airports, and the same case must be made for improvements 
to our roads and bridges, our railroads, our water and sewer systems, 
our law enforcement capabilities that have suffered due to years of 
neglect. Hear me now! Due to years of neglect, we have allowed our 
infrastructure to become antiquated! With the threat of further 
violence on American soil, everything from dams and reservoirs and 
locks and dams to nuclear powerplants to the method of transporting the 
Nation's food supply, we need to beef up the inspections of our meat, 
our poultry, our imported food--all these things must be examined in 
terms of their potential vulnerability. By renewing our commitment to 
investments in our own country, we can help to mend the holes in 
America's homeland security.

  Mr. President, the American people are looking to the Congress for 
reassurance. The American people want to know that their 
representatives understand their fears--the people's fears--and the 
people's uncertainties. They want to know that the men and women in 
this legislative branch--the Senate and the House--understand these 
things and are taking steps to deal with potential threats.
  Partisan disputes breed uncertainty in our financial markets and in 
our economy. All of us ought to be ashamed of the slowness with which 
we have dealt with the appropriations bills. They are ready. We have 
completed conferences on and we have acted upon the conference reports 
on 2 bills--2 out of 13 bills. And here we are. We have had two 
continuing resolutions, and we are now somewhat in the midst of the 
time allotted by the second continuing resolution. We have instead been 
arguing over other things--things that didn't have anything to do, as 
far as I am concerned, with getting on with the appropriations bills.
  Partisanship. Partisanship must no longer reign over this Senate or 
over the House of Representatives--at least until we get our 
appropriations bills completed. And we had better be busy about that. 
We should allow the President 10 days after we send him the last 
appropriations bill. He should be allowed 10 days in which to sign the 
last appropriations bill or to veto it. He should not be given the 
opportunity to pocket veto an appropriations bill. We need to be busy 
about the people's business.
  The American people want to regain that sense of security that they 
lost on September 11. They want to get on an airplane without worrying 
about hijackers. They want to go to work free of angst about every 
piece of mail that comes into the office. Those who go to movies want 
to relax while they are there, and they are entitled to that. Those who 
go to the shopping malls want to relax without looking over their 
shoulders, as it were. Unless we take--when I say ``we,'' I mean us 
folks--unless we take immediate and serious steps to address these 
fears, all of the rhetoric about normalcy is just plain old hot air.

[[Page S10919]]

  This Government's most basic responsibility is to take all--not just 
a few but all--feasible steps to protect its citizens. The conflict is 
not just in the steep mountains of the Himalayas in Afghanistan. I was 
there 46 years ago. Let me tell you folks, you have seen the Rockies. 
Go to the Himalayas; spend some time in Afghanistan. The winter is 
coming on, and soon. And there are millions of landmines waiting on a 
  The conflict is not just in the mountains of Afghanistan. Our people 
are at risk on our own soil. Congress, therefore, must act now to 
ensure the security of the Nation and the American people. By investing 
in measures that strengthen our ability to guard our citizens right 
here at home, we can take an important step toward removing the 
paralysis--the paralysis--go look that word up in the dictionary, and 
if you haven't noticed it before, you will see it--the paralysis of 
fear. Look at our empty office buildings on Jenkins Hill right here.
  We can take an important step toward removing the paralysis that 
results from living in fear. This should be our mission in the days 
ahead as we craft a stimulus package. Whether or not we craft a 
stimulus package, we have 11 appropriations bills awaiting action here 
in one form or another. They will be coming along in conference 
reports. There are appropriations bills such as the one before the 
Senate now that will be up for action in this body. So let's get busy 
about our work. This should be our mission in the days ahead as we 
craft a stimulus package that can restore confidence, which is the 
backbone of a strong economy.
  Mr. President, I thank all Senators and I yield.


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