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Bush, Congressional Delegation Talk About 9/11 Fund

Aired March 7, 2002 - 13:26   ET


BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Let's head over to the White House, where President Bush has gathered with the congressional delegation from New York, to talk about the 9/11 Fund. There have been amendments to it. I will listen now.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I made a pledge to Senator Schumer and Senator Clinton, Governor Pataki, the whole delegation, that our government would commit at least $20 billion to help rebuild New York and to take care of the tragedy that befell that magnificent city.

I want to thank the members who are here who have worked closely with my administration to achieve the common objective of putting $20 billion of federal money to help the city, the surrounding state, the people. As a matter of fact, as of right now there's an over $20 billion commitment.

This is the right thing to do, it's the absolute right position for our government to take. It is essential that New York City come back and come back strong for the good of the entire nation.

I will tell you that I am so proud of the citizens of the city and that part of our country. They have shown the world how strong America is in the face of tragedy. They've showed a character that runs deep in the American psyche, that we will not be intimidated, that we won't fail.

And it's a proud moment for me to thank the delegation here, to welcome the governor and the mayor and the senators and the congresspeople. I look forward to continuing to work with these officials as a mighty city, New York, recovers.

And so it's now my honor to bring to the podium the governor of New York City -- of state of New York -- and then the mayor and then the senators.

First, Governor George Pataki.


GOVERNOR GEORGE PATAKI (R), NEW YORK: Thank you, Mr. President. Mr. President, on behalf of the people of New York, let me just say thank you. You are a man of your word. The people of New York know you as a man of your word. The people of America know you as a man of your word. And when you said that we would get $20 billion within those first hours after September 11, we knew that a commitment you make is a commitment you keep. So thank you on behalf of the people of New York state.

We are now almost six months after September 11, a day that we will always think back on as a day of unspeakable horror, but also a day of tremendous courage and tremendous spirit, a day when New Yorkers, and ultimately Americans came together in a way I haven't seen in my lifetime.

And this commitment of more than $20 billion from the administration, from the president, and from our delegation and from Congress shows that the people of America understand that this was not just an attack on New York, this was an attack on America. And we will rebuild, not just to where we were in the early morning hours of September 11, lower Manhattan will come back and be stronger than it was in the early morning hours on September 11.

I want to thank, of course, the president, who has been unflagging in his commitment to making sure we rebuild New York since those very early hours.

And, Mr. President, let me say as well that the people of New York stand with you, shoulder to shoulder, in your commitment to get these evil terrorists, wherever they may be, and threaten our freedom, and we will make sure we continue to do that.

I have to thank our congressional delegation, because this delegation has come together not as Republicans or Democrats, not as city representatives or upstaters, but as New Yorkers, and as New Yorkers they are delivering and providing the support we need for the people of New York.

So to Senator Schumer, Senator Clinton, to Charlie, to all of our delegation, I thank you for your bipartisanship, nonpartisanship in understanding that we are going to get through this together.

Mr. President, let me assure you as well that we will make sure that every nickel is spent appropriately and intelligently to help the people of New York, to help the people of America, and to help make sure that our economy and our quality of life in lower Manhattan returns as strong as it possibly can.

The mayor and I have an outstanding partnership. Yesterday we just went through some of what we've accomplished and what we've yet to do, and we will continue to work together to make sure that lower Manhattan, and all of New York, appreciates what you and our delegation have done and understands that the best for New York is ahead of us.

Thank you.


SENATOR CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: Well, thank you very much, Mr. President.

And I can't tell you what a thrill it is to stand here with the president and all of my colleagues from the delegation, the governor and the mayor, on such a great day for New York.

Well, nearly six months ago, Mr. President, I sat in the Oval Office and I asked you for $20 billion to help New York. Today, you have fulfilled that commitment. Mr. President, New York thanks you.


Our city and our country...


He calls me Ellis (ph). That's good, I think.


BUSH: Today it is.

SCHUMER: Today it is. Next week, who knows?

Anyway, our city and our country at that time had been brutally attacked, and we desperately needed the president's help. Sitting with Senator Clinton and the senators from Virginia, I made the pitch.

And honestly, Mr. President, I expected you to offer us $5 billion or say you'd get back to us or ask for a memo.

Instead, the president looks us right in the eye, there were tears in his eye, tears in mine, and he said, "New York needs help?"

And I said, "Yes, Mr. President."

And without hesitation, without even flinching, he said, "You've got it."

Today, the president is making good on that pledge in full, and then some.

When you think of lower Manhattan these days, you know we need help. Small businesses struggling to stay float. Large businesses thinking of downsizing or leaving altogether. Residents deciding whether to move out. Nonprofits going under, and damaged roads, damaged subways, the city facing crippling lawsuits, and an area that's both the financial capital of the world and a growing neighborhood to boot struggling to survive.

Well, with your commitment today, Mr. President, and the great work that we have all done together, that's about to change. Thanks to this new funding, the pizza parlor on Cortland (ph) Street probably won't have to close, the family living on South End (ph) Avenue won't have to move, and the commuters who now have to take two trains and a bus to get to work can look forward to the state-of-art intermodal transportation facility that rivals any in the world.

Our utilities won't have to raise rates just to rebuild the facilities destroyed on September 11, and our workers won't have to worry about their jobs leaving the city. In fact, this will create 50,000 new jobs in construction alone. Our businesses will be given a strong reason to stay.

And that's just a small sampling of the ways this money helps real people facing real problems.

Yes, it's been a tough six months, for everyone in this room, for everyone in New York, and for everyone in the country. We've struggled. But as a city, as a state, as a delegation, we have worked together, Democrats and Republicans, we fought hard together, and today we persevered.

Just as President Bush said to us that day in the Oval Office, "You need help, you got it," today we can say to so many New Yorkers who barely made it through the last six months, "You need help, you got it." And those are the best words we've heard in a long, long time.

Thank you.


SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: Well, thank you so much, Mr. President, for convening this opportunity for us to be told in specifics how the promise to New York is being kept. And it's especially reassuring to all the New Yorkers who are still concerned about their futures and the future of the city.

You know, last month in the Budget Committee, when I asked Mitch Daniels about the aid for New York, he responded by saying that the president's commitment was inviolate.

Well, Mr. President, last September, when Chuck and I were in the Oval Office, you never promised us a rose garden.


But you did promise us $20 billion, and today we're getting both, the Rose Garden and the $20 billion. And we thank you, and we look forward to working with you as additional needs arise for our workers and the rebuilding effort stemming from the attacks.

You know, Mr. President, thanks to Charlie Rangel's efforts, we're hoping to have a joint session of Congress in New York. I was delighted that the speaker threw his support behind the idea, certainly the leadership of the Senate has also come on board, and perhaps you'll consider coming up and speaking to such a joint session about America's commitment to rebuilding New York and America's commitment to fighting for freedom that you are leading today. I think all of us remember that famous newspaper headline back in the 1970s, when another president was asked to help New York City. Well, I don't write newspaper headlines, which should be obvious to everyone.


But maybe tomorrow's headline will be, "Bush to New York: Help is on the Way."

CLINTON: And so, Mr. President, we say thank you. We say thank you for your commitment made to Chuck and me. Thank you for staying with us. Thank you for translating that promise into the specifics that have been presented to us today. And we look forward to continuing to work with you to rebuild New York so that it is better than ever, provides even more opportunities, symbolizes the American dream and stands for the freedom that we fight for today.

Thank you so much, Mr. President.


REP. CHARLES RANGEL (D), NEW YORK: Mr. President, my governor and mayor and colleagues and the leadership we have in the Senate, every time I get a chance to come over here to laud the president for his fearless leadership, one of his staff members always come over said, "Keep it short."


But notwithstanding that, I don't think anyone can deny, not only in the United States, but in the free world, that at a time that we were hit with an unimaginable attack by the evil forces that were against America and all that we stand for, we were indeed fortunate to have President Bush at the helms at a time when America needed him the most.


And on behalf of the members of the New York delegation -- and I regret that my dear friend Ben Gilman, the senior Republican of this delegation, is not here...


Well, let him get up here. Well, Ben Gilman has been a tremendous force, and I'm sorry that I did not see him.

But I just want to say, Mr. President, that this delegation has over the years, over the decades worked together for our city and for our state in a bipartisan way. But we all admit that when we were struck, we had no idea as to how we would become a family. And most tragedies that strike a family that has its internal problems, we come together, we work together, and we don't see black and white, Jew and gentile, we know that we have been struck. Mr. President, we thank you for taking away the struggle we may have in dealing with budgetary problems. As we move forward, we can't bring back the lives, but the survivors, the widows, and the people of our great city would see the compassion that you have, not for New Yorkers, not from our city, not from our state, but from America. And we want all of America to know, and freedom-loving people, that when we hit, we come together as a nation and as a family.

And so I want to thank the delegation for the cooperation that they've given; the senators, who've never done anything without meeting and getting a feel; Jerry Nadler, who's there every day with our city council, our assembly people and our leaders; and you, Mr. President, for making it easy, especially today, that we can concentrate on fine tuning and make certain we support our mayor, we support our governor, and not have to worry about the Office of Management and Budget.

Thank you.


BLOOMBERG: Mr. President, thank you. On behalf of all of us and all of the people that we represent, we wanted to say thank you. And we did not want you to think that we have forgotten that as we speak you are heroically leading our military around the world to try to get those who attacked our way of life and those who would do so in the future. Just this week, we know that eight of our bravest soldiers gave their lives to protect everything that we hold dear.

We will recover. Pennsylvania, the field's been cleared. The Pentagon is almost rebuilt. New York City will take a decade or so to finish up the rebuilding. Just today we found the bodies of two more of our police officers, and that's a process that unfortunately is likely to go on for a few more months.

But we appreciate everything you do, and we would like to invite you to come up more. We'd love to see you in New York. We have some of the greatest restaurants, stores. We need the sales tax revenues.


And along that line, I just wanted to thank you for sending your parents up this coming weekend. I am going to have the privilege of being at a dinner with your mother and father on Saturday night, and I will tell them you're doing a great job, Mr. President.


In New York we have a saying, "You make a promise, you keep a promise." And for those let me just say to everybody that doubted along the ways or constantly needed reassurance, I said and my predecessor said and the governor said repeatedly, "George W. Bush is a man of his word," and I think today certainly demonstrates that to anybody that still had a doubt.

So on behalf of everybody in New York, thank you, sir. BUSH: Thank you, Mr. Mayor.

Thank you all for coming.


Thank you all very much.

HEMMER: In the words of Sen. Clinton, help is on the way for New York City: A $20 billion pledge made between the president and the congressional delegation of the state of New York made in the moments after September 11 has come through. And certainly, a large focus in New York City is on lower Manhattan, the business district that has just been absolutely ravaged. Both businesses big and small will benefit from this. You heard Charles Schumer indicating 50,000 construction jobs may come out of this pledge of cash.




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