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John C.
Republican TX

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  • Paycheck Fairness Act—Motion to Proceed

    by Senator John Cornyn

    Posted on 2014-09-11

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    CORNYN. Mr. President, today is the 13th anniversary of 9/11, a day that will be burned in all of our collective memories. I remember two events like this in my lifetime--9/11 is one, and the other is when John F. Kennedy, our President, was assassinated. I remember where I was, what I was doing, and I remember the feeling of horror as the reality of both of those events became more clear. And I bet I am not alone. I bet there are Americans all around the country who remember where they were and what they were doing and what their first thoughts were when those planes hit the World Trade Center in New York, the first and then the second, only to learn there were other planes that were flying with terrorists who had other targets. Of course there was the Pentagon, where many Americans lost their lives, and then there was the plane that was brought down in Pennsylvania that I will talk about a little more.

    This is one of the defining moments in our Nation's history, a day that proved that our love of country and our fellow Americans will always prevail. I remember the overwhelming sense of unity the American people felt when this tragedy unfolded, and it is entirely right that we did so.

    Nearly 3000 Americans lost their lives on that day, many in an attempt to save others from harm. As usually happens in moments of tragedy, there were sparks or hints or bright lights of the triumph of the human spirit, people rising to the challenge, showing some of the very best qualities we exhibit as human beings.

    Today we pause with heavy hearts to remember those we lost and pray to God that He will continue to comfort the families of those who still mourn. Thirteen years may seem like a long time to many of us who did not have the personal tragedy of losing somebody we were close to or a family member, but I am confident that for many who did lose family members and loved ones and friends, that 13 years seems like just yesterday.

    We also continue to keep our military, our intelligence professionals, our law enforcement officials, first responders, and others who dedicated their lives to that fateful day in our thoughts and prayers because it is they who help keep us safe and who have helped us avoid a similar attack on our homeland over the last 13 years. None of them should ever for a moment doubt our gratitude.

    I wasn't serving in this body when those attacks came on September 11, but, as I said, I remember exactly where I was. Like other Americans, I was at home in Austin, TX, preparing for work when I heard the terrible news. I remember my wife called my attention to it after the first plane hit the World Trade Center. I didn't actually see it. Of course I saw it time and time again as it was replayed. But I turned to the television set, as my wife called my attention to it just as the second plane hit, and we all wondered what in the world was happening. Then when the towers actually fell and as people jumped out of the towers to avoid, they hoped, their death--but, in fact, they did jump to their death--it was all too vivid and is still today.

    We should never forget, and that is perhaps the most important lesson we should learn. We should never forget what happened on that terrible day. It is said that those who forget history are condemned to relive it, and I believe that to be true.

    September 11 is a solemn reminder of what can be taken from us in the blink of an eye and why we must never waiver in our efforts to protect this great Nation and the freedom it embodies.

    Two simple words were spoken that will be remembered in history as one of the most courageous and powerful phrases ever uttered, and of course I am referring to the words spoken by Todd Beamer aboard Flight 93. When they heard terrorists were in command of the controls of the airplane and perhaps heading to the Nation's Capital, perhaps to attack either the White House or Congress and to knock out large portions of the U.S. Government, Todd Beamer's response, along with other brave patriots, was ``Let's roll.'' They then attempted to overpower the terrorists in the cockpit. Those brave passengers on that flight did more than just save the lives of innocent Americans here in the Nation's Capital; absent their sacrifice, it is likely that flight would have claimed even more lives than just those on board.

    The passengers on Flight 93, along with every American who died 13 years ago on September 11, were men and women with jobs, with families, and with dreams. I am sure that, like all of us, many of them made promises to their loved ones before they boarded that plane or left for work that day--promises to be home in time for dinner, to make a child's soccer game or birthday party. Some promises don't come cheap. Others cost us absolutely nothing. Others require that we risk everything we have and everything we are, even our very lives, to fulfill those promises. Their acts of courage offer us comfort even today and inspire every American as we have rebuilt from that terrible day 13 years ago.

    The acts of courage displayed on 9/11 mark their last promise in a sense--a promise carried on to the Nation, to their children and other loved ones left behind; a promise that says the story of freedom will not end in the vile acts of evil men. It will endure and it will not be destroyed.

    Early this morning I had the privilege of joining my colleagues on the Senate Judiciary Committee in approving an important piece of legislation called the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, which will now be eligible for movement across the floor. It is [[Page S5530]] appropriate that we pass that piece of legislation on the anniversary of 9/11.

    By amending the current law to hold foreign sponsors of terrorism potentially liable in U.S. courts for acts that injure or kill Americans, this bill will allow the families of the victims of the attacks on 9/11 and others to proceed to court against those responsible for those horrific attacks that took place 13 years ago.

    Part of the attack against international terrorism has to be to go against the money that finances it, and this will provide another tool for those families to attack those who fund and finance international terrorism.

    This bill, not surprisingly, is strongly supported by the 9/11 family victims, and it would allow their litigation to proceed on its merits. I am hopeful it will receive the prompt consideration here on the Senate floor that it deserves.

    Americans have always been deeply concerned about the kind of country and the kind of world we leave our children. As parents, that is what keeps us going some days. Of course, grandparents have other reasons to keep going and to keep fighting for a better world. This remains true both abroad and here at home in our own communities and in our schools and at work. We must continue to push on undeterred, always confident in the pursuit of our ultimate goal: a just, free, and peaceful world not just for ourselves but for our allies and for future generations. Part of that mission involves stopping evil at its source, running it down, and eliminating it for good because we learned another thing on 9/11: We can either take the fight to the source of the evil where it exists or we can defend here on the homeland. Speaking for myself and I am sure others, I want to go fight it at its source and not just defend on the homeland.

    The minions of terror have shown their capacity for inhumanity. We have seen recent reminders of that with the beheading of two American journalists by ISIS. We must never underestimate the capacity and desire of these evil people to do so again and again.

    We have recently been reminded of this, and last night the President spoke to the Nation's commitment to deal with this sort of horrific activity and dangerous and extreme ideology. As we adapt to new threats and new challenges, Americans must maintain a sense of vigilance, a sense of purpose, and a sense of moral clarity.

    We must never forget why we fight, and we must always make sure that our brave men and women in uniform have what they need in order to take the fight to our Nation's enemies. The greatest honor we can give to those we lost is to live our lives worthy of their sacrifice, relish the freedoms guaranteed by our Constitution, and ensure the promise that those freedoms shall not perish for future generations.

    I yield the floor.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. The majority leader.

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