- The Washington Times - Friday, September 21, 2001

Congress reacted as one last night in praising President Bush as he warned the nation of the true costs of the war it was about to enter.

"In the last nine days, we've seen America come together in an unprecedented way to help each other through this time of difficulty," said House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, Illinois Republican. "Tonight, President Bush brought Americans together again, uniting them in a common goal to eradicate terrorism from this earth and to make America a more secure place to live."

Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, South Dakota Democrat, pledged to quickly take up the president's initiatives in leading the war on terrorism.

"He can depend on us," Mr. Daschle said.

"We may encounter differences along the way, but there is no difference in our aim," Mr. Daschle said. "We will do whatever is necessary to protect our nation."

"Extraordinary times like these demand extraordinary leadership. The president has shown such leadership tonight.

He has the full faith and trust of the Congress and of the American people," said House Majority Leader Dick Armey, Texas Republican.

Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott, Mississippi Republican, who spoke alongside Mr. Daschle, said: "No one who heard the president this evening can doubt our resolve, and no one in the ranks of terror should doubt our ability to follow through."

What was missing last night was a formal response from the Democratic Party.

When a president addresses Congress, the opposing party typically is given radio and television time to respond. However, Democrats yesterday chose not to do so.

"The reason is simple," said House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt, Missouri Democrat. "We want enemies and the whole world to know that America speaks tonight with one voice."

"Tonight there is no opposition party. I guess there are those in the world that thought this would pull us apart," Mr. Lott said.

Mr. Gephardt said Democratic and Republican leaders have not made a formal agreement to avoid contentious issues or partisan debate.

"We are learning as we go," Mr. Gephardt said. "We are all trying to do half as well as the American people have done in dealing with this problem. We are following their lead."

Republicans and Democrats alike enthusiastically applauded the president's demand to the Afghanistan government that it deliver to the United States all the leaders of the al Qaeda terrorist network that it has been harboring. They also gave an enthusiastic response to Mr. Bush's pledge to relegate the extremist group and its practices to "history's unmarked graves of discarded lies."

Democrats also applauded but less enthusiastically Mr. Bush's declaration that his demands were not negotiable and that every nation will now either be "with us, or with the terrorists."

By far the most enthusiastic response came before Mr. Bush had even entered the House of Representatives, when his wife, Laura, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani entered the visitors galleries in the chamber's balcony.

The near-deafening applause for the trio was punctuated by yells and whoops of support.

For his part, Mr. Giuliani said later, "I am just proud to be an American and I thank God George W. Bush is our president."

New York Gov. George E. Pataki said of Mr. Bush's speech: "It was exactly the right message to rally America and rally the world."

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