2007-01-19 / Community

Meeks Backs 9/11 Commission Bill

Congressman Gregory W. Meeks has voted to make our nation safer by implementing the unfulfilled recommendations of the bipartisan 9/11 Commission on improving homeland security, preventing terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction (WMD), and developing strategies for preventing the spread of terrorism, a spokesperson for the Congressman announced on Wednesday.

The House passed the bill on Tuesday evening by a vote of 299-128.

"The most important issue facing our country is the safety of American families," said Congressman Meeks. "That is why one of the first bills that the House Democratic leadership brought to the House Floor in this new Congress is a bill to make New York City and our nation safer."

"Last year, the bipartisan 9/11 Commission gave Congress and the Administration a number of poor grades on implementing the Commission's recommendations, including 5 F's, 12 D's and 2 Incompletes," Meeks noted. "These poor grades were a call to action. This critical bill responds to these grades by putting forth specific steps that address the shortfalls the 9/11 Commission highlighted."

The bill includes a number of long-overdue steps to substantially improve homeland security, including:

+ Creating a stand-alone grant program to provide first responders with the type of equipment that allows them to communicate with one another during emergencies;

+ Quickly accelerating the installation of explosive detection systems for checked baggage at the nation's airports;

+ Improving explosive detection systems at passenger checkpoints at the nation's airports.

The bill also includes provisions to better prevent terrorists from acquiring WMD, such as:

+ Strengthening the Cooperative Threat Reduction ("Nunn-Lugar") program that focuses on securing loose nuclear materials in the former Soviet Union;

+ Providing increased tools for the Proliferation Security Initiative, through which the U.S. and participating countries interdict WMD; and

+ Establishing a U.S. Coordinator for the Prevention of WMD Proliferation and Terrorism at the White House, who would serve as a presidential advisor on proliferation issues.

The bill also provides additional funding for risk based Border States such as New York and First Responders. It will:

+ Substantially increase the share of homeland security grants that are provided to states based on risk, rather than population and provide additional funding for Border States.

+ Allow for law enforcement agencies (such as the New York City Police Department) to hire intelligence analysts.

Finally, the bill also includes provisions to reduce the appeal of extremist ideology and behavior by:

+ Providing for the establishment of a Middle East Foundation, to promote economic opportunities, education reform, human rights and democratic processes in the countries of the Middle East; and

+ Promoting quality educational opportunities for youth in Arab and other predominantly Muslim countries, including expanding U.S. scholarship and exchange programs.

"The 9/11 Commission recommendations are important to the residents of New York City and the American people who expect security in their country, and their community. This legislation alone cannot immunize New York City or the rest of the nation from attack. However, it represents an important step forward for our national security," stated Meeks.

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