Hoyer criticizes security policies

House Democrat contends GOP doesn't support its rhetoric with `robust action'


WASHINGTON -- Maryland Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, delivering the weekly Democratic radio address yesterday, said the Bush administration and congressional Republicans "have failed to back up their rhetoric with robust action" when it comes to national security.

"Today, unfortunately, our nation and our people are not as safe as they could - and should - be," he said, adding that Democrats would do a better job than Republicans have on crucial issues such as port and transit security.

In recent weeks, Democrats have worked to pledge their commitment to security issues, hoping it will help them win the confidence of voters in this fall's midterm elections.

"The American people want and deserve a change of direction," said Hoyer, who represents Southern Maryland and is the No. 2 Democrat in the House.

"To that end, Democrats are united: We will ensure our unparalleled military strength. We are committed to defeating terrorism and stopping the spread of weapons of mass destruction. We will implement the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. And we will work to make 2006 a year of significant transition in Iraq," Hoyer said.

Hoyer also said Democrats would work to wean the nation off its dependence on foreign oil and carry out belt-tightening policies to reduce the budget deficit.

"Fiscal responsibility is a foundation for our national security," he said. "Democrats urge our Republican friends to join us in a bipartisan consensus to restore our nation's fiscal health."

Quoting President John F. Kennedy, Hoyer said, "If we are strong, our strength will speak for itself. If we are weak, our words will be of no help." He said Democrats would draw on the ideals of former party leaders, from Woodrow Wilson to Franklin D. Roosevelt to Harry S. Truman.

"The American people do not need more rhetoric," Hoyer said. "They need real security - real security provided by a comprehensive strategy that employs our military strength, intelligence capabilities, homeland defense, diplomacy, economic leverage and, most of all, the enduring power of our American ideals."

In his own taped address yesterday, Bush urged the Senate to break the logjam over immigration legislation, which hit a roadblock late last week. Bush said the bill must include a temporary worker program to allow U.S. companies to hire foreign employees to fill labor gaps "that no American is available to do."

Bush also directly addressed critics of such a program, who say it would essentially be amnesty for people who have entered the country illegally. He said a temporary worker program "should not provide amnesty."

"Granting amnesty would be unfair to those who follow the rules and obey the laws," Bush said. "Amnesty would also be unwise, because it would encourage others to break the law and create new waves of illegal immigration. We must ensure that those who break our laws are not granted an automatic path to citizenship. We should also conduct the debate on immigration reform in a manner worthy of our nation's best traditions."


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