“I’m still amazed that this administration doesn’t want to admit that this was a terrorist attack,” Williams said. “We’re going to get this bill up and running” and, once it makes its way through the House and Senate to the commander in chief’s desk, “make President Obama act accordingly.”
As to why the administration, from Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to current Secretary Chuck Hagel, isn’t revisiting the “workplace violence” classification, “I think they’re looking at it like they don’t want to have terrorism on their watch,” Williams added, noting Hasan “even admitted he was a terrorist — he wished he would have done more.”
“We the mujahideen are imperfect Muslims trying to establish the perfect religion in the land of the supreme God,” Hasan said at his trial, trying to justify opening fire on the soldiers readying to deploy to Afghanistan.
“This administration has forgotten these young people and that is a tragedy,” Williams said. “I’m not gonna let that happen.”
To that end, he and Carter have 202 co-sponsors on their bill; Democrats on board include Rep. Luis Gutierrez (Ill.) and Texas Reps. Ruben Hinojosa, Al Green, Joaquin Castro and Beto O’Rourke.
When the House returns next week, Williams and Carter aim to bump that number up to 218. “When that happens we should get it out of committee and onto the floor,” Williams said.
Congress’ attention on the Fort Hood shooting won’t stop at the “workplace violence” label, either. Over Hasan’s trial he continued to collect his paycheck, earning more than $300,000 until 10 days after he was declared guilty. Acknowledging the law was being followed, Williams said one proposal would treat a member of the military in Hasan’s position as federal employee, stopping pay during the trial.
Another concern is that shooters — from Fort Hood to the Navy Yard — could have been stopped sooner if soldiers were allowed to carry their weapons on base.
“They haven’t addressed what we need to do is let these young men and women have their weapons,” Williams said. “We’re going to have this dialogue — to leave them wide open is no answer.”
The congressman spoke in his district on the afternoon of the Fort Hood anniversary. “People want it fixed — they want this to be declared a terrorist act, get these young men and women help and move on,” Williams said. “I haven’t had one person come up to me and say ‘this is workplace violence.’ Even the terrorist said he’s a terrorist.”
“When can we start telling these kids we love them and appreciate their service?” the congressman added. “If people are as upset about this as most people are, let your legislators know. Call their congressman if they’re not on it and tell them to sign the bill.”