Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2017—Motion to Proceedby Senator John Cornyn
Posted on 2016-07-11
CORNYN. Madam President, last Thursday night, hundreds gathered
in downtown Dallas to engage in a peaceful protest. Dozens of police
officers were on hand to make sure that these protesters could exercise
their rights under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and
protesters even snapped pictures of themselves with the officers in a
show of harmony, underscoring the peaceful nature of the event.
As we know now, near the end of the route, all this was shattered as a gunman opened fire on law enforcement officers in a targeted, senseless, and vicious attack. It was made clear early on, that the attackers' goal was to kill as many police officers as possible, and he made a calculated effort to do just that. To attack those who work day in and day out to keep our communities safe is absolutely revolting. It is an act of pure evil and the shameful work of a coward.
Today our country grieves with Dallas, the Dallas Police Department, who lost four of their own, and Dallas Area Rapid Transit, who lost an officer while protecting the community that night.
These officers did what all of our law enforcement officers potentially would be called to do; that is, they put their lives on the line. Some gave their very lives, and several others were injured in actions that can only be described as heroic. These officers were certainly worthy of the badge they wore, and their courage makes me proud to be a Texan. They could have turned around and run away from the sound of gunshots and commotion. They could have given up and decided their lives were more important than the lives of those they had vowed to protect, but they didn't. That is not who they are. They are made of better, braver stuff than that. In fact, these officers ran to the sound of gunshots without hesitation to protect the community they serve.
Dallas police chief David Brown recounted that many ran out in the middle of the gunfire knowing they were making themselves targets of the attack in order to get injured officers to safety and to medical help. Many used their own bodies to help shield protesters who were fleeing in terror.
That is what the men and women of the Dallas police force are made of--undeniable valor and unfailing courage. To say we are indebted to them for their service to the community is an understatement, but I want to thank each and every one of them who didn't hesitate to put it all on the line to defend and protect the people of Dallas.
Today and tomorrow, when the President comes to Dallas, our country will continue to mourn with the whole Dallas community. We grieve for the first named officer who was killed, Officer Brent Thompson. Officer Thompson was a newlywed who married a fellow officer just a couple of weeks ago. We grieve for the loss of Patrick Zamarripa, who bravely served three tours in Iraq and leaves behind a wife, a son, and a 2- year-old daughter. We likewise grieve for the family and friends of Lorne Ahrens, Michael Krol, and Michael Smith--three other officers who were killed. We offer our prayers for those who were wounded, including a woman who happened to be an African American who was shot in the leg while trying to shield her sons from the bullets. We pray for her and the several other police officers who were shot but survived as they begin the long road to recovery.
I mentioned the race of the woman who was shot to underscore that while the shooter said he intended to kill White police officers, his actions did not discriminate based on race. Everyone who was in the line of his sight that night was a target.
This is a national tragedy, the deadliest day for American law enforcement since the events of 9/11. Tomorrow I will join leaders in Dallas, President Obama, and former President Bush at the memorial service to honor the lives of those we lost and to pray for healing and peace for the city and for our country.
While it should not take an event like this to jolt our consciences, we have to consider more ways to support our public servants who are tasked with the daunting responsibility of keeping order, enforcing the rule of law, and protecting our communities. One way we can do that is to support additional training for our law enforcement, like some legislation that I have introduced called the POLICE Act, which has passed the Senate unanimously. It would make millions of dollars available for law enforcement to pursue active-shooter training.
In other words, we have learned the hard way that by trained policed officers running to the gunshot, we can actually save lives while endangering, obviously, the lives of the police officers engaging in that active-shooter practice. But with training, these officers can minimize their own exposure and, hopefully, save more lives. I hope the House will pass this legislation soon so we can send it to the President's desk.
I also would note the contribution of my friend and colleague Congressman John Carter from Central Texas, who has sponsored legislation in the House. It is pretty clear that we don't have all of the answers. That goes without saying, but we know we can make a difference if we try. In addition, I plan on introducing other legislation soon that would help law enforcement go after the violent criminals who intentionally target police officers and give additional authorities to our law enforcement officers to help them better defend both the public and themselves.
As we continue to grieve and say our prayers, let's not neglect our work to support law enforcement so that they can better protect and defend our communities. Our law enforcement officers deserve our utmost respect for the essential, irreplaceable role they play in our communities.
Tragically, the officers we lost last week were killed and injured for simply doing their job; that is, for keeping the community safe. They were shot while actually protecting protesters so that they could exercise their constitutional rights of free speech and assembly. These officers didn't do anything wrong. They weren't responsible for any of the real or perceived injustices that have occurred in other parts of the country, but they were targeted by a twisted and demented mind who lost his own life in pursuit of this terrible crime. There is no-- zero--justification for the taking of these lives.
As our country continues to grieve, I hope we will also unite to support those who put their lives on the line to keep us safe.
Madam President, I see a Senator wishing to speak, so I will yield the floor.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Rhode Island.