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Md. Delegation Welcomes Bush's Call for Unity 

By Robyn Lamb and Carolyn Taschner
Capital News Service
Thursday, Sept. 20, 2001

WASHINGTON - Maryland lawmakers lauded President Bush's call Thursday for "resolve and determination" in the long fight against terrorists and their sponsor states. 

Bush, speaking to a joint session of Congress just nine days after attacks left more than 6,000 people dead or missing, vowed to eradicate terrorism, calling on Americans to remain calm and resolute in what he said would be a campaign unlike any the United States has experienced before. 

"This will not be an age of terror. This will be an age of liberty here and across the world," said Bush in a 35-minute speech that was interrupted 29 times by applause. 

Bush said the American people have shown their spirit in their response to the attacks and proved that the state of the union is strong. 

"I thought the message above all that the president wanted to send was one of resolve and of determination to stick with this effort," said Sen. Paul Sarbanes, D-Baltimore. "He warned it won't be quick and it won't be easy .... We're going to have stay with this issue next week, next month, next year." 

Bush also appealed for tolerance toward Muslims and Arab Americans and pledged that America's fight was not against Islam but against those who "blaspheme the name of Allah" by committing evil in his name. 

"I am pleased that he was forceful with Americans" about tolerance of diversity within our own country, said Rep. Constance Morella, R-Bethesda. She said the speech "set exactly the right tone internationally, as well as in our own country."

Morella was almost moved to tears, she said, when the president introduced Lisa Beamer, the widow of a passenger on United Airlines Flight 93. Passengers on the hijacked flight apparently wrested control from terrorists, causing it to crash in southwestern Pennsylvania before it could hit other possible targets.

Bush also named Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge to a newly created Cabinet position, the Office of Homeland Security, which will report directly to the president on national security issues. 

"This is a stark incident for us because America has never been struck so critically here at home," said Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Mechanicsville. "Maryland will have to do what all states will have to do -- join in with the national effort to make sure its citizens will be secure." 

Rep. Wayne Gilchrest, R-Kennedyville, called Bush's speech a road map for the nation and the world to eliminate terrorism, broaden freedoms and expand tolerance. 

Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Frederick, said one positive thing to come out of the attacks, in addition to a renewal of patriotic spirit, is renewed attention and funding for the military and intelligence services, which he said have been neglected for too long. But Bartlett said Bush was right to list other weapons in the fight against terrorism. 

"I was impressed by the order in which he listed the instruments for fighting terrorism," Bartlett said. "The last instrument he named was military. It reflects his understanding of this war -- that it will be won by drying up funds and by making it impossible for people to harbor them [terrorists]." 

The president delivered the speech amid extraordinary security at the Capitol. U.S. Capitol police with dogs lined the entrances, where metal detectors were heavily manned. Security personnel checked identification closely. 

Roads around the Capitol were blocked off, forcing many to enter through underground tunnels to nearby congressional office buildings. Some House members arrived as much as two hours before the scheduled 9 p.m. address.

Since the Sept. 11 attacks, Congress has passed several measures to fight terrorism and to aid relief efforts. Those actions included a resolution authorizing the president to use any necessary force against the terrorists responsible for the attacks, as well as any countries that harbor or assist them. Congress also approved $40 billion in funds to combat terrorism and to provide emergency aid, with half of the money available this year and the rest set aside for use in the next fiscal year. 

Other actions in the days after the attacks included:

  • bills to expedite relief to the families of public safety officers killed or injured in rescue efforts, and to provide tax relief to victims' families.
  • a bill allowing the Immigration and Naturalization Service to grant permanent residency to certain non-immigrants in return for their service as informants to law enforcement.
  • resolutions encouraging Americans to display the flag in solidarity, while condemning bigotry and violence against Muslims and Arab Americans.

CNS reporters Marie Beaudette, Jennifer Dorroh, Kristyn Peck and Melanie Starkey contributed to this report.

Copyright 2001 University of Maryland College of Journalism


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