WASHINGTON-In an effort to fortify
the nation's homeland and national security, a
bipartisan group of Senators Tuesday introduced
legislation to implement recommendations made by
the 9/11 Commission in July. The 280-page omnibus
legislation covers subjects ranging from intelligence
reform, border and transportation security, information
sharing and outreach to the Muslim world.
Also attending the announcement to show their
support for the legislation were 9-11 Commission
Chairman Thomas Kean and Vice Chairman Lee Hamilton.
introducing the legislation include Commerce
Committee Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz.,
and Governmental Affairs Committee Ranking Member
Joe Lieberman, D-Conn.- co-authors of the legislation
introduced in December 2001 that created the
9-11 Commission - Senator Arlen Specter, R-Pa.,
a senior member of the Judiciary and Appropriations
Committees and former Chairman of the Select
Committee on Intelligence; and Senator Evan Bayh,
D-Ind., a member of the Select Committee on Intelligence
and the Armed Services Committee.
Representatives Chris Shays, R-Conn., and Carolyn
Maloney, D-NY, who will be introducing companion
legislation in the House of Representatives,
attended as well. And Senate Minority Leader
Tom Daschle, D-S.D., and Senators Hillary Clinton,
D-N.Y., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., signed on
as original co-sponsors.
Lieberman, Bayh, and Specter had announced on
July 22 - the day the Commission published
its final report - that they would draft legislation
faithful to the Commission's recommendations
and in the same bipartisan spirit in which it
produced its seminal work.
Among other things, the bill would:
- Create a strong National Intelligence
Director with real budget authority and a National
Counterterrorism Center to pull together intelligence
- Establish a far-reaching
information sharing network to
promote sharing of intelligence
and homeland security information
throughout government, including
with state and local agencies;
said: "To protect the security of our
nation, Congress must act with dispatch to carefully
consider the recommendations of the 9-11 Commission
and to enact needed changes to further secure
our homeland. We continue to confront grave threats,
and there is no greater priority than ensuring
the safety of our country."
said: "The sweep of reform contained
in this bill is historic, as it must be, because
the challenges that confront us have little precedent
in history. Every aspect of our open society
is constantly being probed for weakness that
can be used against us to attack right here in
America. The Commission has shown the depth of
the challenge before us and the urgency in confronting
"Also, the Senate leadership assigned the Governmental
Affairs Committee the job of looking at the commission's
recommendations on executive branch reorganization.
Chairman Susan Collins and I have been holding
hearings since July and are working on a Committee
bill that I am confident we will markup and report
to the Senate floor before Sept. 27.
"The work on both pieces of legislation - the
bill we announce today and the Governmental Affairs
Committee bill - has proceeded distinctly but
collaboratively. Each has informed and strengthened
the other. I look forward to the Committee's
markup during the week of September 20th and
Senators McCain, Specter, Bayh and I hope that
the work we and our staffs have done will contribute
to an expeditious process.
said: "We are certainly on alert and
the time has come for some action to put all
of the intelligence agencies under one umbrella.
With the filing of this very distinguished Commission's
report, the time is really ripe for action. There
is no doubt in my mind that had all of the information
been available in a coordinated matter, that
9/11 could have been prevented."
said: "As we pledged in July, we are here
today on the first day the Senate is back in
session, to introduce legislation that will act
on the proposals made by the 9-11 Commission.
This legislation represents the efforts of members
from both parties working together for the common
good of reforming our intelligence community,
an effort in which I hope our colleagues will
join us, so we can enact the necessary changes
to win the war on terrorism."
In addition, a separate Senate task force,
which includes Senators McCain and Lieberman,
will be looking specifically at reorganizing
the way Congress oversees homeland security and