Tuesday, the Senate voted 90-9 to approve the landmark Homeland Security
bill. What follows is the full transcript of Sen. Byrd's remarks during
the conclusion of the Homeland Security debate.
come to the end of a long, long road. For nearly five months this chamber
has engaged in discussions about homeland security. But, for nearly
as long a time this Congress has not engaged in seeing to it that there
is actually funding to make our people any safer from the threat of
another horrific terrorist attack.
been over four months since the House of Representatives has seen fit
to pass a regular appropriations bill.
talked a lot about homeland security, but we have done very, very little.
not given the cities and municipalities—the police, the firemen, the
hospital workers, the first responders, who are on the front lines—we
have not given these people one red cent to help them keep us safer
from the madmen within our midst in four months.
been a little over a year and two months since America was jolted from
its tranquility by the noise, smoke and flames of two exploding commercial
airlines as they smashed into the twin towers.
these intervening months, except for the initial help we provided to
New York and to Washington to aid in closing the hemorrhaging wounds
of economic disruption and human devastation, caused by the terrorist
attacks, not enough has changed here at home.
we have chased bin Laden across the landscape of Afghanistan and probably
cleansed that nation of the training camps for terrorists for now. We
have made progress, I am sure, in some disruption of the al-Qaida network
one in this chamber, and no one in this city can look the American people
in the eye and say to them: "Today you are much safer here at home
than you were 14 months ago."
of reckless disregard for the reality of the threat to our domestic
security, this administration and many in this Congress have taken part
in an irresponsible exercise in political chicanery.
House has pressured its Republican colleagues in the Congress to reject
billions of dollars in money which could have added to the tangible
safety of the American people.
House has stopped this year’s normal funding process in its tracks,
and even turned back funds for homeland security in emergency spending
bills that could have shored up existing mechanisms to prevent, or respond
to, another devastating blow by fanatics who hate us.
done this plain disservice to the people in order to gain some perceived
political advantage in a congressional election year, and in order to
be able to say that they were holding down spending. Further, in order
to avoid criticism of the too meager dollars for homeland security,
this White House suddenly did an about-face and embraced the concept
of a Department of Homeland Security.
are being offered a bureaucratic behemoth, complete with fancy, top-heavy
directorates, officious new titles and noble sounding missions instead
of real tools to help protect them from death and destruction.
irresponsible. How callous. How cavalier. With this debate about homeland
security, politics in Washington has reached the apogee of utter cynicism
and the perigee of candor.
is telling our people the plain unvarnished truth. It is simply this.
is a bureaucratic behemoth cooked up by political advisors to satisfy
several inside Washington agendas.
is intended to protect the president from criticism and fault—should
another attack occur.
is intended to eliminate large numbers of dedicated, trained federal
workers, so that lucrative contracts for their services may be awarded
to favored private entities.
will be used to channel federal research moneys and grants to big
corporate contributors without the usual federal procurement standards
that ensure fair competition and best value for the tax dollar.
will foster easier spying and information-gathering on ordinary citizens
which may be used in ways which could have nothing whatsoever to do
with homeland security.
with this new bill, which showed up only last week on the doorstep of
the Senate, insult has been added to injury by provisions that further
exploit the already shamefully exploited issue of homeland security
with pork for certain states and certain businesses.
my, how low we have sunk.
the nation will have this unfortunate creature, this behemoth bureaucratic
bag of tricks, this huge Department of Homeland Security, and it will
hulk across the landscape of this city, touting its noble mission, shining
up its new seal, and eagerly gobbling up tax dollars for all manner
of things, some of which will have very little to do with protecting
or saving lives.
in five years or so, it will sort out its mission and shift around its
desks enough to actually make some real contribution to the safety of
our people. I sincerely hope so.
the latest tape from bin Laden is to be believed, we won’t have time
for all of that. If the latest threat assessments from the FBI can be
believed, we will experience something catastrophic before that new
department even finishes firing all of the federal workers it wants
to get rid of.
it take to wake us up? What does it take to make the gamesmanship cease?
When will we stop the political mud wrestling and begin to wrestle with
the most potentially destructive force ever to challenge this nation?
hope that when the gavel bangs to close down this session of Congress,
it will awaken us to all of the dreadful consequences of continued posturing
that this administration, with its newfound majorities in both houses
of Congress, will quickly pass the remaining 2003 bills which will provide
at least some modicum of real security for our people as soon as Congress
reconvenes in January. They will want to claim that they can get things
I deplore the motivation and the gamesmanship behind such tactics, I
wish them well and I pledge my help.
long past time for us to finally do our best to prevent another deadly
strike by those who hate us and wish us ill. Terrorism is no plaything.
service is no game. Political office is no place for warring children.
oath of office which we take is no empty pledge to be subjugated to
the tactics of election-year chicanery perpetrated on a good and trusting