Statement of Senator Jim Jeffords
Senate Environment and Public Works Committee
Hearing on Infrastructure Security, Chemical Site Security, Economic Recovery
November 1, 2001
Tuesday night I watched Game 3 of the World Series. As I watched the game, I was heartened by the pictures of faithful fans cheering their beloved teams. A tattered flag flapped in the breeze in the outfield, the same flag that had been pulled from the rubble of Tower 2 three days after the World Trade Center disaster. During the 7th inning stretch, the anthem "God Bless America" replaced the familiar refrain of "Take Me Out To The Ballgame." And on the field, in storied Yankee Stadium, in that grand old city, two teams competed in the Fall Classic. And as I marveled at the sights and the sounds, I was overcome with the feeling that with our collective efforts, as a Nation we will overcome this sad chapter in our history.
But the healing journey will not be an easy one. Many additional responsibilities have been thrust upon each of us by change. A successful journey to recovery will require citizens in communities across America to come together, to lend a helping hand, and to strengthen feeble knees. While we take our journey together as a Nation we must not forget the horrible events of September 11th or the people directly affected by the attacks. It is in this spirit that we gather here today to discuss various legislative proposals to aid the victims of these tragic events. I would like to acknowledge Senator Clinton's tireless efforts to address, and to anticipate, the needs of the citizens affected by this tragedy. The Senator has listened to her constituents, she has worked with the city and state officials, and she has put forward credible proposals worthy of our serious and expedited attention. I trust that we will have a candid and forthright discussion of these proposals.
A successful journey to recovery will also require improved critical infrastructure security. Just yesterday, I heard about a recentevent at a Florida chemical storage facility which underscores this point. I was alarmed, and quite frankly a bit incredulous, to learn that only a few days ago a significant quantity of the lethal pesticide methyl bromide was stolen from a Florida chemical storage facility. Apparently, the thieves absconded with the poison through a hole cut in the facility's fence while security personnel stood guard. How could this happen? This is unacceptable. We must act. I applaud Senator Corzine for recognizing the need for improved chemical site security and for introducing legislation to attempt to remedy the problem. I look forward to an open and honest debate on the subject. I also look forward to a meaningful discussion of how we can improve the security of our Nation's water supply, nuclear facilities, and federal buildings.
Speaking to a group of young Americans just after the turn of the 20th Century Mark Twain advised, "Always do right–this will gratify some and astonish the rest." As this legislative session draws to a close, let this Committee do the right thing. Let us work in a bi-partisan and timely fashion to aid the victims of the recent terrorist attacks on our soil and to take the necessary steps within this Committee's jurisdiction to improve this Nation's critical infrastructure security.
Our national journey to recovery may be a long one, but if we join together as an American family, I am confident we can make it.