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For Immediate Release
October 8, 2002

President to Congress: Pass Terrorism Insurance and Homeland Security Bills

Excerpt from October 8, 2002 Remarks in Alcoa, Tennessee
Click here to read full remarks.

And before they go home, there's something else they can do. They can pass a terrorism insurance bill. See, there's $15 billion worth of construction projects which are on hold around America because people can't get insurance for the project. The enemy hit us, and it made it very difficult for people to be able to insure those projects. And so, therefore, I think it's a useful role for the Congress to serve as a backstop against a potential terrorist attack.

This is a jobs program. This is a way to get our people back to work the right way, to encourage private sector jobs. There's over 300,000 jobs, good hard-hat jobs that have been delayed because we can't get a terrorism insurance package out of the United States Congress. There's a lot of voices up there talking about the economy, and I'm glad they're talking about it. But they ought to stop talking and they ought to start doing, by getting a terrorism insurance bill to my desk so we can get people back to work. (Applause.)

And that terrorism insurance bill must remember who we're trying to help. We're not trying to help the trial lawyers; we're trying to help the hard-hats of America. (Applause.) Now, I -- the economy is on my mind because I want our fellow countrymen working, I want them to be able to put bread on the table. The safety of the country is on my mind, too. See, there's still an enemy which hates America lurking around. And so long as that's the case, my most important job is to protect you. My most important job is to rally the assets of government at all levels to do everything we can to deny the enemy, to prevent them from hitting America.

People say, well, why -- and I know a lot of kids are probably asking, well, why America? And you've just got to understand that the enemy hates us because of what we love. We love freedom. We love the idea of people -- (applause). We love the fact that, in this great country, people can worship an almighty God any way they see fit. That's what we love. (Applause.) We love free political -- we love the debates, we love free -- we love the discourse of free people. We love a free press. We love everything about our freedom, and we're not going to change. We're going to stand tall and stand strong. (Applause.)

We also value life in America. Everybody counts, everybody has worth, everybody is a precious soul. And the enemy we -- the enemy doesn't regard life the way we do. You see, they hijack a great religion and kill innocent people. They don't care, but we do. And so long as we hold those values dear, which we will, the enemy will try to strike us.

And so we've got a lot of good people, you just need to know, working hard to protect you. A lot of good folks. We're sharing information. I mean, we're running down every hint, every idea. Every piece of evidence we get, we're chasing it down so that we can say to the American people, we're doing everything we can do.

That's why I went to Congress and asked them to put together a department of homeland security, to join me in creating a new department, so we could better coordinate the over 100 agencies that are involved with protecting you. And we got a good bill out of the House, and it's stuck in the Senate.

And the reason it's stuck in the Senate is because there is a disagreement over how best to manage the agency. On the one hand, they want us to have a thick book of rules to micromanage the decision-making process. I'll give you one example. The Customs agents should be wearing radio detection devices -- radiological detection devices on their belt so that, if when they're looking for weapons of mass destruction and they come close to one, it -- this device will send a signal. It ought to be -- it ought to be a part of their job. But the thick book of rules says, well, that's up for collective bargaining before you can make a person do that. See, we've got -- that violates a rule and, therefore, we got to negotiate that out.

Folks, we don't have time to negotiate a lot of these issues. (Applause.) We've got time to negotiate some issues. We've got time to negotiate some issues, of course. But we don't have time to sit around and negotiate the work rules necessary to protect you. The enemy doesn't sit around worrying about a thick book of regulations. And so, for the sake of our national security interests, the Congress, the Senate ought to give this President and future Presidents the ability to put the right people at the right place with the right equipment at the right time to protect America. (Applause.)

Click here to read full remarks.

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