Lawmaker Criticized for 9/11 Comments


Lawmaker Criticized for 9/11 Comments


WASHINGTON (AP) — A conservative Republican congressman says he supports helping victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks but did not offer an apology for remarks he made while questioning the need for federal compensation.

Following criticism from fellow lawmakers and others, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., issued a statement Wednesday insisting he would "continue to support federal assistance for the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks," although he did not specify how that should be done. He opposed reopening a victims compensation fund that expired in 2003 after distributing about $7 billion.

On Thursday, after more negative reaction to his remarks, Issa's spokesman Frederick Hill said, "The congressman recognizes he could have chosen his words better at the hearing."

During a joint hearing on Tuesday by two House Judiciary subcommittees considering legislation to extend benefits, Issa described the Sept. 11 attacks as "a fire that had no dirty bomb in it" and added: "It had no chemical munitions in it. It simply was an aircraft, residue of two aircraft and residue of the material used to build this building."

He questioned "why the firefighters who went there and everyone in the city of New York needs to come to the federal government for the dollars versus, quite frankly, this being primarily a state consideration."

Issa went on to say that he couldn't vote for additional money for New York "if I can't see why it would be appropriate to do this every single time a similar situation happens which, quite frankly, includes any urban terrorist. It doesn't have to be somebody from al-Qaida. It can be somebody who decides they don't like animal testing at one of our pharmaceutical facilities."

In opposing the legislation, Issa cited concerns about extending compensation to people who weren't physically injured and didn't work at Ground Zero. The bill would allow people who lived, worked or volunteered in the area to be compensated for psychological as well as physical problems.

His remarks immediately drew indignant responses from New York lawmakers at the hearing as well as from the witness he was questioning, Michael Cardozo, New York City's top lawyer.

"Congressman, this was I believe an attack on the United States of America. It was located at Ground Zero, but it was an attack on America," Cardozo retorted.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., who chaired the hearing, said in an interview Thursday that Issa's statements were "extremely rude, extremely stupid, extremely insensitive, extremely unpatriotic — to put it mildly."

Rep. Pete King, R-N.Y., said in a statement: "New York was attacked by al-Qaida. It doesn't have to be attacked by Congress. I'm really surprised by Darrell Issa. It showed such a cavalier dismissal of what happened to New York. It's wrong and inexcusable."

(This version CORRECTS to show that Issa's statement was Wednesday, not Thursday.)

Sounds like dishonest rationalization by Rep. Darrell Issa to me

Then why do we have (supposed) Federal Disaster Relief for hurricanes, floods, etc.? Shouldn't the affected states & cities just handle it themselves, by Issa's reasoning?

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