Painfully aware of the avalanche of irrelevant amendments that Republicans have put forth in an attempt to stall or derail the 9/11 Commission recommendations from getting a Senate vote, families of those who died on September 11 have sent a harshly-worded letter to Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), demanding that the GOP put national security before politics.
"As family members who lost loved ones on 9/11, we support full implementation of the 9/11 Commission recommendations. We are writing out of grave concern that your recent introduction of highly provocative, irrelevant amendments will jeopardize the passage of S.4.," said the letter, which was signed by key members of the groups Voices of September 11th and Families of September 11. "It is inconceivable that anyone in good conscience would consider hindering implementation of the 9/11 Commission recommendations, delaying much-needed homeland security improvements. We strongly disagree with these divisive procedural tactics."
The letter was signed by Voices of September 11th President Mary Fetchet who lost her 24-year-old son, Brad, in the New York City attacks and Carol Ashley, whose daughter Janice, 25, died in World Trade Center Tower One. Signing from Families of September 11 were Beverly Eckert, whose husband, Sean Rooney, died in Tower Two and Carie Lemack, whose mother, Judy Larocque, was aboard one of the hijacked flights.
"Just as the Iraq war deserves separate debate, so do each of the amendments you offered. S. 4 should be a clean bill and debate should conclude this week with a straight up and down vote. Each day that passes without implementation of the remaining 9/11 Commission recommendations, the safety and security of our nation is at risk," said the letter, which was sent to McConnell on March 8.
"Tactics such as those you are contemplating, which endanger the 9/11 bill, send a signal to America that your priority is partisan politics, not protecting America against terrorism. Both parties must work together to pass this critical legislation. We, the undersigned, understand all too well the risk of failure to secure our nation."
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) read the letter on the Senate floor on Friday, saying that Republican efforts to fog the debate with non-germane amendments were "... nothing more than an effort to delay passage of the 9/11 Commission bill. We need to move forward on this vital legislation."
"I again ask everyone to listen to the words of the family members of those who perished on September 11," said Reid. "We have, as I speak, these women and others who are watching what we do here today... It is just absolutely hard to comprehend that this is what is being attempted on this bill."
The Democratic leader also read into the Congressional Record a similar letter he received from the groups at the end of February, citing their dismay at how the 9/11 Commission recommendations had been ignored during the GOP's do-nothing Congress and urging Reid to continue pushing for passage of the legislation.
"It has been exactly 14 years since the first attack on the World Trade Center; over 5 years since the terrorist attacks of 9/11; and over 2 years since the 9/11 Commission released a blueprint for strengthening America's security. The pace of Congressional response to these wake-up calls has been glacial," read the letter to Reid, which was labeled as "an open letter" to the Senate.
"The legacy of those whose lives have been taken by terrorists on American soil is in your hands. Prove to the families of those killed in 1993 and 2001, and to all Americans, that this is a new day in Washington, and that safety and security will finally take precedence over special interest groups and politics".
We'll soon see whether Senate Republicans, to whom allegiance to the White House is their primary charter, will hear the voices of those most affected by September 11 or if they will maintain, above all else, their blind loyalty to George W. Bush.
You can read more from Bob at BobGeiger.com.