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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Rep. Dick Gephardt and Airline Pilot Speak on Capitol Hill

Aired October 24, 2001 - 11:10   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: To Washington quickly. Dick Gephardt is speaking there on what we anticipate is latest on Capitol Hill and the investigation there.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

REP. DICK GEPHARDT (D-MO), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: ... our hearts go out to the victims of all the families that are effected by this tragedy. We hope that the people that have been infected with anthrax will be able to recover.

Well, in my view, the federal government might have lived up fully to its responsibilities in this situation. We now have a responsibility to take care of these families, as was done with the families hurt by September 11.

Today, I want to call on my colleagues in Congress to include the postal workers who gave their lives on the front line of our war against terrorism to be included in the victim's compensation fund that we set up to help those effected by the September 11 attacks. These innocent victims of terrorist acts deserve our strong support at this difficult hour.

We have an economic stimulus debate on the House floor today. We're passing a bill today to give the attorney general and other law enforcement officers enhanced tools to combat the global threat of terrorism. Congress also has passed a bill that helped stabilize the airlines and keep our planes in the air.

But six full weeks from the horrible September 11 attacks, the House is still yet to debate or vote on one of our nation's highest priorities in the fight against terrorism, following September the 11th, and that is aviation security for all Americans. A minority in the majority opposes a law that passed the Senate 100 to nothing that would put federal law enforcement agents at all baggage and screening checkpoints.

This minority does not want to vote, even consider a good House bill sponsored by Jim Oberstar or the Senate bill, because they fear they won't have the votes to defeat either of those bills. It refuses to let the House take up anything until it is assured that they will prevail in this matter.

The time has come to act on this issue. We will reject the status quo. Think anew and act anew, and pull this system up by the roots and dramatically change it for the better.

Now we're going to hear from two people on the front lines of this issue. They've graciously agreed to come to Capitol Hill to join us in this event and give their perspectives on what should be done to increase security for them and all Americans. Bill Turbet (ph) is a pilot with US Air; Paul McKinnon (ph) is the international secretary- treasurer of the Association of Flight Attendants. I thank them for taking their time to talk with us about a matter that's critical to them, their families and to thousands of families -- millions of families across this country.

Bill, would you lead off?

U.S. AIR PILOT BILL TURBET: Approximately three weeks ago, I along with 11,000 of my fellow employees at US Airways also became victims of the September 11 tragedy when our company announced we would be laid off. The first group of the US Airways pilots were laid off on October 15. When these lay-offs are completed at US Airways this number will reach 1,350 pilots.

Never before has an industry been hit so violently, so quickly and suffered repercussions so severe.

Over 100,000 aviation-related workers will lose their jobs within the next few months and that number will probably grow. The Displaced Workers Assistance Act includes many needed provisions that would supplement and enhance or, in some cases, introduce benefits these employees may be able to receive.

An additional year of state unemployment benefits and training programs would give these workers, all of whom were unexpectedly laid off, the ability to train for and obtain a job that would support their families. Federal payments for the medical premiums would provide peace of mind to the families.

We are asking our congressional leaders to fully support our workers just as they supported the airlines. Safety on...

HEMMER: We will continue to monitor the situation there with Dick Gephardt and the pilot there. Remember, the flight attendant union, again, pushing for safer skies. It has been debated back and forth on Capitol Hill, as possible, as Dick Gephardt said, possible they could bring a bill to the floor later today. Whether that happens or not is an open issue.

Before that, though, we did hear about anthrax and the concerns with two fatalities in the Washington area on Monday this week. Dick Gephardt also referring to the families who were affected by that, saying we should give full support behind these families as a result of tragedy of this past week.

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