Leaders of the U.S. Congress have denounced the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and have given President Bush a strong bipartisan statement of support. The House and Senate will reconvene Wednesday morning.
Like much of official Washington, Congress shut down after a hijacked jetliner crashed into the Pentagon Tuesday morning. The leaders were rushed away from the city to a safe place. Hours later, with the nearby streets still closed, a somber group of senators and House members stood on the Capitol steps in an effort to demonstrate unity, strength and support for the president.
Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, the highest-ranking Democrat in Congress, vows the lawmakers' work will go on. "Today's despicable acts were an assault on our people and on our freedom," he said. "As the representatives of the people, we are here to declare that our resolve has not been weakened by these horrific and cowardly acts. Congress will convene tomorrow."
Mr. Daschle says Republicans and Democrats will speak with one voice to help the many victims of the airborne attacks and punish those responsible. The Republican House Speaker, Dennis Hastert, emphasized the United States will retaliate, though it is not yet known who carried out the strikes. "But we have our suspicions," he said. "And when that is justified, and when those suspicions are justified, we will act. We will stand with the president, we will stand with this government and we will stand as Americans together through this time."
The House and Senate will also investigate the attacks, with several committees in both bodies likely to become involved. A few lawmakers are already criticizing what they call a huge intelligence failure. For now, however, the leaders in Congress will try to calm a shocked nation - and like other Americans, will try to live in a changed world.