Emerson Radio Address: Three Emergencies

Date: June 17, 2006
Location: Washington, DC


"America has three priorities for keeping her safety, security and prosperity intact. All three are addressed by important actions in the U.S. House of Representatives this week.

First, we are meeting the needs of our men and women in uniform. In order to conclude our work in Iraq, we must take an aggressive stance in support of completing our objectives there and transferring authority to a competent Iraqi government. This means maintaining a well-equipped force that can protect this government in its infancy, as it makes important strides like holding free elections, convening a representative legislature that confers rights to men and women equally, and constructs a constitution. All of these elements will be required to stand on their own long after American forces are gone - as will the irrigation systems, roads, and institutions we have helped the Iraqi people build.

For such a selfless sacrifice by our troops in a global war on terror, we must back them and represent them. These millions of dollars translate into protective gear, vehicle up-armor kits and a tremendous security investment in Iraq. At the same time, we are making clear the fact that, in return for this investment in the Iraqi people, they must take on even more of these responsibilities and themselves rebuild.

Addressing our second emergency also requires that we rebuild, this time in New Orleans and on the Gulf Coast. It is hurricane season again already along the Gulf and Atlantic Coasts. Many residents of these areas are still displaced by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita of last year, and it is imperative that we do not leave unfinished the good work of so many donors and volunteers who responded to this tragedy - and who are still responding in order to rebuild the lives of tens of thousands of hurricane victims.

To anyone who witnessed the devastation caused by the Pemiscot County tornado, imagine that kind of destruction on the scale of America's 35th-largest city and the coastlines of three Gulf states. The Federal Emergency Management Agency needs the tools and the authority to resolve the emergencies in Southern Missouri and the Gulf Coast, because the next natural disaster or national emergency is always right around the corner.

And our final objective is to assure the security of our border and address the homeland security and economic dangers we invite via a porous, unenforced avenue into the United States. The U.S. House of Representatives has repeatedly voted to add border security agents and revise enforcement of the U.S.-Mexico border. Our efforts have been politicized and stymied in the U.S. Senate, despite the best efforts of Missouri's own Kit Bond and Jim Talent.

Opponents of tougher border enforcement argue that the U.S.-Canadian border is longer, more susceptible to terrorism, and largely unguarded. To them, I say that this border, too, needs the benefit of greater scrutiny and the broader use of technology. But it is more than one danger our border security must protect against. The unmitigated flow of drugs over our southern border is poisoning our entire country. Fully 90 percent of the methamphetamine in the U.S. is manufactured in Mexico, due in large part to our work in the past year to reduce accessibility to meth's ingredients in the U.S. by putting pseudo-ephederine behind the counter. Illegal immigration makes a mockery of U.S. immigration law and punishes men and women who pursue the American dream through a legal process, who respect the time constraints of their visas, and who honor the values and laws of the nation in which they wish to live.

Border security should not be a negotiable policy subject to a political agenda. A porous southern border is a security risk we cannot afford to leave unprotected while politicians waffle and debate.

On each of these three emergencies, Congress must show strong leadership and complete support. If we do not, history will not judge us kindly. This week shows a continued commitment the American people need and deserve."