FROM THE ARCHIVES: Things Have Changed (September 24, 2001)

In celebration of COSSA’s 40th anniversary, we are diving into the decades of Washington Update archives to share articles from years past that resonate with today’s news.

It is the morning after President Bush’s speech to the joint session of Congress, ten days after the terrorist attacks. Once again Washington, and indeed the world, is a changed place. The disputed presidential election and lingering doubts about the legitimacy of this presidency—gone. The switch of Jim Jeffords to give Democrats control of the U.S. Senate—ancient history. Concern about using the social security surplus to pay for government spending—evaporated. Partisan bickering over appropriations—finished. The nation is united for a war against terrorism to, as the President declared, “lift the dark threat of violence from our people and our future.”

For COSSA, whose office is three blocks from the White House, it has been a time of contemplating our own good fortune, and to join the rest of the country in expressions of sorrow over losses and admiration for acts of courage, and to attempt to make some sense of it all. There is also a continuing fear of what could happen next that has made Washington edgy. But life and work does go on.

Congress has pledged to cooperate with the President in a bipartisan manner and to move quickly. Although the original adjournment target of October 5 will not be met, there is no longer any discussion of the session running until Thanksgiving or later. The Democratic and Republican leadership, previously quite chilly in their relationships with each other, are now working together with a sense of purpose. Congress has already passed a $40 billion emergency package to help fund the military response, enhance airport security, help survivors, and rebuild New York and the Pentagon. It will soon enact legislation to help the nation’s beleaguered airlines. The Justice Department has submitted legislation to strengthen its weapons against terrorism[…]

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