Congressional leaders speak on bombings, worry about complacency

April 16, 2013

Congressional leaders used their regularly-scheduled Tuesday morning appearances to once again convey thoughts on the Boston bombings and ongoing investigation.


House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio),  accompanied by members of the House Republican leadership, speaks about the Boston Marathon explosions during a news conference on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, April 16, 2013. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)

House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said that he feels federal and local law enforcement officials have enough tools to combat the sort of attacks as Monday’s in Boston, including a thorough investigation.

“Our law enforcement officials, both at the federal level and the local level, are gonna have all the resources they need, and the technology and tools they need,” Boehner told reporters Tuesday morning.

Asked if Congress needed to act in any way to provide more aid, Boehner said no. “I don’t think so,” he said.

After speaking with Obama Monday evening, the Speaker expressed frustration that there was little information about who carried out the attack, echoing others who could not describe it as a domestic or foreign perpetrator. “It was a terrorist attack of some sort. Until we know who or why, I don’t think we can further define it. There’s just not enough information,” he said.

Speaking at the same news conference, House Majority Leader Eric I. Cantor (R-Va.) said Congress would stand with law enforcement with “a determined sense to hold those accountable that perpetrated this attack”.

“The Boston Marathon really is all that is good about America. It stands for strength and perseverance,” Cantor said.

At almost the same time on the Senate floor, Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said the country is still “reeling from the senseless violence” in Boston, but said “we are united in sympathy for the victims of this senseless attack and the families who are suffering today.”

Reid said that the FBI and other federal agencies “are investigating this attack as aggressively as possible. As the president said last night, rest assured that the perpetrators will feel the full weight of justice for this terrible crime.”

In extended comments on the Senate floor, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) focused on specific examples of personal injury and tragedy and concerns that the nation has grown complacent after more than a decade without a serious terrorist attack.

“Many who were looking forward to celebrating the achievement of a loved one yesterday woke up to the grim reality of facing the rest of their lives with a disfiguring injury,” he said on the Senate floor. “For them, yesterday’s attacks were the beginning of a long and difficult journey. Three others who lined up to encourage others, including an 8-year old boy who was there to cheer on his dad at the finish line, lost their lives in the blast. We pray in a special way for these families.”

As for complacency, McConnell noted that the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks disabused Americans of the notion that violent, dramatic terrorist attacks only occur on battlefields or in other countries.

“With the passage of time, however, and the vigilant efforts of our military, intelligence and law enforcement professionals, I think it’s safe to say that, for many, the complacency that prevailed prior to September 11th has returned,” McConnell said. “And so we are newly reminded that serious threats to our way of life remain. And today, again, we recommit ourselves to the fight against terrorism at home, and abroad.”

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