Congressional leaders switched gears from health care to national security on Sunday in the wake of a foiled Christmas Day effort to blow up a Northwest flight inbound to Detroit from overseas. While lawmakers from both parties called for enacting tougher security measures in response to the thwarted attack, Republicans accused President Barack Obama of not taking the risk of terrorist attacks more seriously.
House Select Intelligence ranking member Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.) said it is fair to blame the administration for the attempted bombing and accused the president of downplaying the threat of terrorist attacks.
“I think it really is— the administration’s fault, Hoekstra said on “Fox News Sunday.— “The Obama administration came in and said, ‘We’re not going to use the word terrorism anymore, we’re going to call it manmade disasters,’ trying to, I think, downplay the threat from terrorism. In reality, it’s getting much more complex.—
Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), also appearing on the show, called the botched attack “a jolt for us. This is a wake-up call.—
Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), the ranking member on the House Homeland Security Committee, appeared on CBS’s “Face the Nation— and criticized the president for not doing more to reassure the public that his administration is on top of the matter.
There has been “a virtual vacuum the last day and a half,— King said. “This administration has been so quick to talk about global warming and health care reform and the latest deals being made in the Senate . Somebody in the last 48 hours should have been out there speaking to the American people.—
House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.), who also appeared on CBS, called King “a good buddy— but someone who “is given to a little bit of hyperbole sometimes.—
“This is a very narrow incident,— Clyburn said. He said he has been briefed on the administration’s response to the incident and “is very satisfied that everybody is doing what they ought to do.—
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, who made the rounds on three Sunday morning talk shows, highlighted Obama’s order for a review of watch list procedures and detection capabilities.
On the health care front, Democrats in both chambers conceded Sunday that key provisions in the Senate health care reform bill will largely trump those in the House bill in final conference negotiations.
“The reality is if we are going to have a final law, it will look a lot more like the Senate version than the House version,— Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) said on Fox.
Clyburn said he could support a final bill without a public option as long as it gives people more insurance choices, creates more competition for insurance companies and contains costs. He dismissed the idea that Obama strung along supporters of a public option.
“I never quite bought into— including a strong public option in the health care bill, said Clyburn. “I was one of those people saying we ought to come up with a hybrid And that’s what we did on the House side. We did a blended plan. We didn’t do what you might call a robust public option plan on the House side.