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October 21, 2004

With only twelve days remaining until the election, we are extremely concerned about the slow pace of action, the lack of a public process, and the direction this conference is taking. Despite opening statements indicating a willingness to work in bipartisan, bicameral fashion, the conference ended with a unilateral proposal from House Republicans.

Although 75% of the conferees, representing the Senate majority and minority and the House minority, are focused on the core recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, a minority faction comprised of House Republicans is thwarting the process. This is occurring despite Speaker Hastert's promise to us that the House would not derail final consensus.

We saw this same pattern when there was resistance to the creation of the 9/11 Commission, to funding for the Commission, and to the Commission's extension. Yet with the help of public awareness, those roadblocks were overcome.

We are therefore calling for public meetings so that Americans can see who is holding up action on this critically important legislation. This conference must be conducted in a collaborative public and bipartisan manner rather than behind closed doors.

Yesterday, the first meeting day, was yet another day wasted. No subsequent meetings are scheduled. The conferees should not leave Washington until their job is done.

We need a final product now to restore faith that our government is doing everything in its power to keep us safe. If the legislation doesn't have full support from the White House and the conference doesn't work in a bipartisan manner, the chance of enacting meaningful reform will evaporate.

We support the 9/11 Commission recommendations as embodied in the Senate legislation. We call on the President and House leadership to urge a public, nonpartisan process that everyone can support and that puts a bill on his desk before election day.