WASHINGTON, D.C. –This afternoon, Representative Edward J. Markey (D-MA), joined a majority in the House of Representatives to support legislation that will make America safer by finally enacting the recommendations of the bipartisan 9/11 Commission. After final passage of the bill, Rep. Markey joined Speaker Nancy Pelosi at a press conference highlighting key accomplishments in the bill, several of which were Markey legislative initiatives.

The following is Rep. Markey’s statement:


Thank you, Speaker Pelosi. I’d like to commend you for your strong, sustained leadership on this important issue. You put passage of the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission at the top of the agenda for the new Democratic Congress – H.R. 1, the first bill to pass the House this year. And your determination and leadership was indispensable throughout the process that brings us here today, following the overwhelming passage of the final version of the bill.


I also would like to commend Homeland Security Committee Chairman Thompson for his outstanding work on the House bill and his successful efforts to produce an excellent final bill with the Senate.


Three years ago, 9/11 Commission Chairman Kean and Vice Chairman Hamilton concluded the preface to their monumental report with these words:


“We hope our report will encourage our fellow citizens to study, reflect – and act.”


Today, under the leadership of Speaker Pelosi, this House took action.


I am particularly pleased that several vital homeland security initiatives that I have worked on for years are included in this bill.


· This bill requires that all cargo carried on passenger planes is screened. For the first time, Congress is requiring that the billions of pounds of cargo carried on passenger planes will receive the same type of security scrutiny that is applied to passengers’ checked bags. This is a huge victory for the millions of passengers who fly every year, and for the pilots and the flight attendants, who are “first responders in the air” if there is a security problem onboard.


· This bill mandates that all maritime cargo bound for our country is screened for nuclear bombs and sealed overseas. We know that Al Quaeda’s aim is to obtain a nuclear weapon and detonate it in our country. Failure to screen and seal all cargo overseas doesn’t just ‘miss the boat’ - it also could miss the bomb, with devastating consequences for our country. This bill will close the dangerous cargo loophole.


· This bill requires the re-routing of hazardous shipments around high-risk areas. Every day, tank cars pass through our urban centers carrying enough chlorine to kill 100,000 people in half an hour. These shipments of toxic chemicals are literally ‘Hell on Wheels’ rolling through our communities. This bill ensures that the safest and most secure route must be taken.


· This bill will help our nation’s first responders communicate during emergencies. When police, fire and emergency workers rushed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon almost 6 years ago, the lack of interoperability proved fatal for many of these brave Americans. The bill we are considering today wisely puts the interoperability expert – the Director of the Office of Emergency Communications - in charge of ensuring interoperability.


· This bill contains new whistleblower protections for public transit and rail safety and security employees. When it comes to transportation systems, transit employees are our “eyes and ears”. This bill ensures that these modern-day Paul Reveres have recourse if they are retaliated against for pointing out a safety or security flaw. .


Our country owes a debt of gratitude to the family members of the 9/11 victims. Without their persistence, the 9/11 Commission never would have been established in the first place. I would particularly like to recognize Carie Lemack from my Congressional District, whose mother Judy Larocque of Framingham was onboard Flight 11. Carie – your hard work, along with the other 9/11 family members, really paid off.


Today is a day to celebrate an important homeland security milestone for our country. It also is a day to give thanks for the heroism that so many Americans demonstrated in the face of extreme danger on September 11th.


Tom Kean, chairman of the 9/11 Commission, has called this bill “a very big step forward” that “will make our nation safer.” Nevertheless, Al Qaeda and its affiliates will continue to plot and plan against us, and so we must remain vigilant and ready to thwart their attacks.


Again, I commend Speaker and Pelosi and Chairman Thompson for their work on this bill and look forward to continuing to work on the vital homeland security challenges facing our country.



July 27, 2007

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