Warren Remembers Victims on Senate Floor
By Edward Donga
BU News Service
WASHINGTON – As conflicting reports circulated Wednesday afternoon over the progress of the investigation into the Boston Marathon bombings, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., remembered the victims of the attack in her first speech on the Senate floor since being sworn in this past January.
Warren’s mid-afternoon speech was a sharp departure from the contentious gun control debate that dominated the discussion on the Senate floor for much of the day Wednesday. It also followed a jittery morning on Capitol Hill, during which Capitol Police investigated suspicious packages in two Senate office buildings.
“I rise with a heart heavy with mourning, but I also rise with the gratitude of a fearless people – gratitude for the nation’s prayers, strength, and resolve,” Warren declared at the outset of her speech
She described the pride that Bostonians typically take in Patriots’ Day, and the joy they find in the annual running of the Boston Marathon.
“We love the speed of the winners. We love the endurance of the participants. We love the passion of the supporters,” said Warren.
She then reached out to all those who have been affected by the attack.
“No one can replace what we have lost. No one can relieve the weight of our sorrow,” she said. “But here today, and in the days and weeks ahead, wherever we are, we will grieve together, hurt together, and pray together.”
She described the three victims who perished in the attack and those that had been injured, assuring them that the thoughts of the entire Commonwealth of Massachusetts would be with them.
“In the weeks and months ahead, your struggles will be our struggles, your pain our pain, your efforts our efforts,” Warren declared.
As the city begins to recover, Warren—who has lived in the Boston area for two decades since joining the faculty of Harvard Law School—described the resiliency of the city’s residents.
“Bostonians are tough,” said Warren. “We are fighters, and we will not be broke.”
Senator William “Mo” Cowan, D-Mass., sat next to Warren as she spoke, and later offered his own comments to his Senate colleagues.
“The nation and the world saw the best of the people in the Commonwealth during Monday’s tragic events,” said Cowan. “Countless residents showed such strength and grace in the face of this terrible tragedy.”
Cowan also lauded those who aided the victims. “I am in awe of the bravery shown by our police, fire, and emergency personnel. I am so proud of the medical providers, volunteers, and spectators who rushed towards the noise and smoke to help the injured even as they themselves remained in imminent danger,” he said.
Just prior to Warren and Cowan’s floor speeches, the Capitol was experiencing a bomb scare of its own.
In the Hart Senate Office Building, Capitol Police investigated two suspicious packages, while a third suspicious package was investigated in the nearby Russell Senate Office Building. .
Before the “all clear” signal was given in early afternoon, staffers were told to stay in their offices, and other persons were ordered out of the hallways while the investigation was underway.
Senate Sergeant at Arms Terry Gainer later told The Hill newspaper that the packages were reported as suspicious because they were hand-delivered and not screened beforehand at an off-site facility in Maryland—to which mail bound for Capitol Hill has been directed since the delivery of anthrax-laced letters to two Senate offices more than a decade ago.
At the same time Capitol Police were investigating the suspicious packages, an envelope containing a suspicious substance—addressed to President Obama—was discovered at an off-site White House mail screening facility.
The packages that caused concern came just a day after preliminary tests on a letter sent to Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., registered a positive for ricin, a toxin with no known antidote. The letter was intercepted in the Senate’s off-site mailing facility and never reached Capitol Hill.