Frist discusses anniversary of Sept. 11

By Julie Fann
star staff
jfann@starhq.com
On the two-year anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Sen. Bill Frist, R-Tenn., reminded the public to honor those whose lives were lost in the tragedy. Calling the attacks a "wake-up call to a war that we continue to fight today", Frist said the victims of that day did not die in vain.
"The day was a dark day that changed our lives forever - our government, and the lives of our citizens, and those who died simply because they were American. As time heals our wounds, we must not forget to honor those who died ... their memory drives us forward to secure a future for our children," Frist said Wednesday.
The senator said he fully supports the president's request, and the approval by Congress, of $87 billion in emergency funding to go toward the war on terrorism and wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
"It is my full intention as majority leader to expedite the funding request. Later today, I will meet with Colin Powell to discuss the specifics of the request. America's fighting men and women deserve nothing less than to have their efforts supported, " he said.
Frist also said he remains optimistic about a goal set by Congress to devise the best voluntary Medicare program that can be preserved over time. Frist called the plan the "single largest expansion of Medicare in two generations" and emphasized that it will provide senior citizens more choice, security, and access to prescription drugs.
Though he voted against Title I funding for Tennessee's schools, Frist said he remains a strong supporter of the 'No Child Left Behind' Law. Nearly half of Tennessee's schools did not pass federal benchmarks in the 2003 report following the one-year anniversary of the legislation. Frist said he did not see the report in a negative light.
"I look at it in a very positive light, an opportunity to see where we have weaknesses and strengths," he said.
For the past four years, Frist has also advocated positioning the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) for the future, which he said will involve establishing a board consistent with other governmental and non-governmental agencies, and the installation of a chief executive officer who is held accountable to the board.
Frist indicated he was disappointed in a recent Congressional vote to dissolve over-time pay for employees, which will affect approximately 8 million people. "I was disappointed in the vote because I do believe that our regulations must be modernized. They were written 40 years ago and have not been updated. I believe that though it was defeated, there are other ways we can achieve modernization of those regulations," he said.