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Homeland Security: Republicans Talking About Current Position on Airline Security

Aired October 31, 2001 - 10:01   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: In the meantime, this is on Capitol Hill. And again, we mentioned the aviation security measure that passed in the Senate last week. We do anticipate the House will take up that issue for vote tomorrow. Not today, but rather tomorrow.

J.C. Watts, the Republican now from Oklahoma, about to come to the microphone.

REP. J.C. WATTS (R), OKLAHOMA: Good morning.

We've got several members of Congress with us this morning, and we've got the secretary of transportation with us as well, and we've got some pilots with us, who have been gracious to join us here this morning, to talk about airport security.

And the secretary reminded us this morning that there are about 423 commercial airports around the country, and something to the tune of around 760 screening points. And I think the challenge that we have before us in the House of Representatives is to come up with the best possible model that will make sure that our pilots, and the employees, and the people that get on planes and people that work in airports and other areas of security, that they are safe, that they are secure. You know, this debate has taken a lot of different directions, but anybody that thinks that this is about anything other than safety and security for the American people, people that utilize airports on a daily basis, they're mistaken. This is about safety and security. We think our bill bests addresses the safety and security issues that's been brought to us, post-September 11th. Again, we will vote on this bill tomorrow, and try and move legislation that makes sense for the security of the American people.

Speaking of this morning, I'm going to recognize Mr. Armey, then Mr. Delay, and then Representative Blunt, and then Secretary of Transportation Mr. Mineta.

REP. RICHARD ARMEY (R), MAJORITY LEADER: Thank you, J.C.

Due to the funeral of Jerry Solomon, we moved the bill to tomorrow. But tomorrow, we will take up a bill that will make it very clear that the president of the United States, the Federal Aviation Agency and other agencies of this government will have the resources with which we can make American Airlines safe for all American people. I thought I would just share with you a little experience I had yesterday morning. I got on an airplane at the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport to come to Washington. The captain of the plane, Captain Susan Staples, visited with me for a little while. I had to get on the plane early for security reasons. And having done so, I listened to what the captain did to brief her crew and the sky marshals that were on the plane regarding the protocols and procedures that she would observe on her plane and what she would like done.

She also, after she did that, invited me to the cockpit to show me what she thought was her last line of defense, something called a crash axe. It was a very menacing piece of equipment, I must say, and in her able hands, I'm sure we would find people willing to back off.

But the point was, that a captain of the airplane should not have to be concerned with that. We should have such rigorous security in place that we can all get on the plane, relax and the pilot and copilot can attend to their affairs.

HEMMER: Republicans talking about their current position on airline security. We anticipate a vote tomorrow in the House.

And the main sticking point on this entire issue has to do with screeners of the airport. Should they be employed by the federal government, or should they just be supervised by federal employees. There is a massive amount of agreement between the House, and the Senate and White House as well, when it comes between cockpit doors and scanning provisions and airline fees, but this is the sticking point now. We should get it a vote tomorrow in the House, as anticipated. The White House has said it does not want federal employees to be screeners at airports across the country. It has threatened to reject that measure.

However, again, we should get a vote tomorrow on the House and see where it goes from there. We are clearly seeing politics enter into this debate, and Democrats certainly have a voice, too, and we will hear from them a bit later this morning what it happens.

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