BRINGING THE TERRORISM BILL TO THE FLOOR -- HON. CHARLES E. SCHUMER (Extension of Remarks - December 19, 1995)
HON. CHARLES E. SCHUMER
in the House of Representatives
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 19, 1995
- Mr. SCHUMER. Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Republican leadership reversed itself again on the terrorism bill. Repeatedly, the leadership had promised to bring this legislation to the floor. First they said they would do it by Memorial Day. Then they said it would come up before August recess. Finally, they pledged a vote by the end of the year.
- Yesterday afternoon, however, the bill was abruptly yanked from this week's floor schedule.
- Yesterday, I also received a letter from Ms. Victoria Cummock of Coral Gables, FL. Ms. Cummock's husband was killed 7 years ago when Pan Am Flight 103 exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland. As a victim of this random, senseless terrorist attack, she had dearly hoped that the House would finally move toward passage of the terrorism bill. Once again, her hopes have been dashed by the leadership's pandering to the far right.
- I would like to enter Ms. Cummock's statement in the Record, Mr. Speaker, to demonstrate to all of my colleagues how important this legislation really is. I share her hope that Congress will move urgently to pass the anti-terrorism bill right away, rather than waiting for another tragedy to spur action.
- I ask unanimous consent that her letter appear directly following these remarks:
- Families of Pan-Am 103 Lockerbie,
Coral Gables, FL, December 13, 1995.
- Re H.R. 1710/sub/H.R. 2703 counter-terrorism legislation.
House Judiciary Committee,
- Dear Congressman Schumer: I am the widow of John Binning Cummock, a 38 yr. old American father of three, who was killed by terrorist, abroad Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie Scotland. Additionally, I am the Vice President of the Pan Am 103 Families group representing over 180 next-of-kin. I am writing in support of HR 2703 substatute for HR 1710. I feel that this current legislation is the most comprehensive and proactive approach to protect Americans from terrorism that I have seen come out of Congress in the last seven years.
- After the bombing of the Murrah building in Oklahoma City, Congress vowed to get tough and pass this legislation by Memorial Day '95. Quick progress was made on the Senate side but sadly the House seems to have come to a screeching halt on debating this bill. Now that the media focus has faded from the Oklahoma City bombing, my fear is that Congress will recess before enacting this badly needed legislation. it is imperative that Congress does not forget its responsibility, not only to protect the American people, but to support the law enforcement agencies who are trying to respond to the escalating and changing threats.
- In less than seven years, I have looked into the faces of hundreds of American families that have been devastated by terrorism, after the bombing of Pan Am 103, the World Trade Center and most recently after spending 11 days in Oklahoma City under the sponsorship of the American Red Cross. I know all to well what they have been sentenced to live with under the current system. We owe it to our children and to future generations to be able to live in a safe and secure America. American children must now grow up feeling like they are walking targets to potential terrorist attacks, both domestically and internationally. Unfortunately, the children of the victims of terrorism remember all too well the questions of who is protecting them and where is justice? Let us not afford more consideration and rights to illegal aliens, felons or potential terrorists, than we do to our children who daily pledge allegiance to the American flag.
- Specifically, for the Pan Am 103 families the FSIA Amendment within Section 804 is of particular importance. This will provide victims of terrorism an avenue to pursue terrorist sponsoring Nations, where none existed before, by waiving Sovereign Immunity for specific acts of terrorism against American. Clearly, history has shown that the current system, of diplomacy takes decades and only serves to re-victimize the victims' families by providing little or no remedy. In our case, as the KAL 007 flight which occurred over 12 years ago, no progress is in sight. A failure to achieve swift and adequate resolution only to continues the emotional pain, and anguish of the families especially the children. Victims' families are not entitled to access the mental health and other areas of support currently available to other American victims of violent crimes. Hence, America turns its back on the families of those who made the ultimate sacrifice for being Americans. To potentially receive compensation after 40 years can not buy back my children's childhood, especially if they have been too traumatized to be able to learn how to read or sleep through the night.
- I hope that we can count on your full support when this bill is placed for a vote. I can be reached at (305) 667-7218 or Skypage 1 (800) 592-8770. My hope is that it will not take another incident to refocus Washington's priorities on counter-terrorism, and other Americans can be spared our fate. Thank you very much for your consideration.
M. VICTORIA CUMMOCK,
- V.P. Pam Am 103 Lockerbie,
Widow of John B. Cummock.