Langevin Seeks Continuity of Congressional Business in Event of Attack or Natural Disaster

Dec 6, 2001
(Washington, D.C.)–Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) today announced he is working to ensure the continuity of congressional business in the face of any potential future threat to the Capitol or the Washington, D.C. region.  Langevin's efforts come on the heels of the September 11th terrorist assault on the United States and the subsequent anthrax attacks which forced the House of Representatives to adjourn.

 Langevin has drafted legislation entitled the “Ensuring Congressional Security and Continuity Act” which calls for the investigation of alternatives to conducting official Congressional business in and around the United States Capitol.
 “While the United States must take every threat seriously, we cannot allow terrorism or even natural disasters to prevent the effective operation of the nation’s highest lawmaking body,” said Congressman Langevin.  “We have learned many lessons as a result of the recent attacks on our nation.  To ensure that our citizens did not lose their lives in vain, we must learn from our mistakes and take the necessary steps to prepare for future threats and ensure that government can continue to conduct its business effectively.”

 Specifically, the legislation would authorize a comprehensive study on the feasibility of implementing a secure off-site voting and communication system for Members of Congress if events force the Legislative Branch of government to meet without being at a single location.  The Ensuring Congressional Security and Continuity Act also requires an assessment of how Congress can ensure business continuity in circumstances where members and their staffs cannot access their offices in Washington, D.C.

 Langevin is pushing for this study as hundreds of Senators and staff whose offices are located in the Hart Office Building are still unable to enter the building - two months after the receipt of the first anthrax letter addressed to Senate Majority Leader Daschle (D-ND).  

 “We must not allow aggression against our nation to prevent Congress from serving the people of the United States and operating effectively,” added Langevin.  “We must prepare for what was once the unimaginable and take the proper steps to ensure that Congress will function regardless of any unforeseen circumstance.”

 To further his efforts and understanding on this topic, Congressman Langevin hosted a members-only briefing on November 14th with his colleague Congressman Brian Baird (D-WA) on what could be done to ensure government continues to function in times of national crisis.