From the Office of Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi

House Democrats Unveil Homeland Security Priorities

September 5, 2003

Washington, D.C. -- House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi released the following statement today at a news conference held to discuss the homeland security priorities of House Democrats. Pelosi was joined by Congressman Jim Turner, Ranking Member on the Select Committee on Homeland Security, House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, and other House Democrats.

Attached below are a one page summary and a detailed fact sheet about the initiative.

"House Democrats have been working to develop a set of priorities to make our country safer and more secure.

"Next week, we will mark the second anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks. It will be a time for remembering the thousands who lost their lives or who were injured on that day, as well as our service men and women who have died or have been wounded in the campaign against terrorism following the attacks. In remembering those who have sacrificed so much, we must be ever mindful of their families, for whom the pain of loss continues.

"As necessary and appropriate as our ceremonies of remembrance will be, this should also be a time for an honest evaluation of how well we have done in the past two years in reducing our exposure to another terrorist event. The attacks of 2001 made clear the gaps that existed in our homeland security, and post-attack reviews have revealed even more vulnerabilities.

"As Members of Congress, our first responsibility is set forth in the Preamble to the Constitution -- to provide for the common defense. When the Constitution was written, providing for the common defense meant homeland security. We weren't fighting wars around the world, we were defending the homeland. As we protect and defend our country, we must protect and defend the Constitution -- that is the oath of office that we take.

"Improving the safety of the American people at home must be undertaken as aggressively as pursuing terrorists in far-off lands.

"Today, we present an assessment of areas in which security improvements are critical. Our priorities focus on making America safer and more secure.

"Our priorities include enhancing protection of our borders; securing sensitive nuclear and chemical plants; improving the coordination of our intelligence; and improving the resources of our first responders. Reducing these risks to our security must be a national priority, and we need a commitment to accomplishing it that reflects the enormity of the tragedy we suffered on September 11."




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