WASHINGTON – More than half of the members of Congress are expected to skip a special 9-11 memorial session of Congress in New York City onFriday, including three from the Maryland congressional delegation.
Democratic Reps. Albert Wynn of Mitchellville and Ben Cardin ofBaltimore and Republican Rep. Roscoe Bartlett of Frederick said Thursdaythat they will not travel to New York’s Federal Hall to commemorate theanniversary of last September’s terrorist attacks.
Both Maryland senators and the state’s five other House members planto go, according to their offices.
All representatives and senators were invited to attend the session according officials in both in the House and Senate. But Wynn will stayhome to focus on his campaign, his staff said. Cardin will be observingRosh Hashana, the Jewish new year, which starts Friday at sunset.
Bartlett’s press secretary, Lisa Wright, said he is not attendingbecause he wanted to ensure that there was enough room forrepresentatives from the New York delegation at Federal Hall.
The historic hall, where the first Congress met and drafted the Billof Rights, could accommodate the entire Congress, said an official in theHouse Clerk’s office. But the House Sergeant-at-Arms would only say that”200-plus” of the 535 members of Congress are expected to attend thejoint session at the hall, which is only few blocks from where the WorldTrade Center towers stood.
Members will take the train from Union Station in Washington to NewYork for the 10 a.m. session at Federal Hall. They will then lunch withMayor Michael Bloomberg before heading to Ground Zero for a wreath-layingceremony.
Rep. Constance Morella, R-Bethesda, said that the session “is afitting tribute to the strength of our nation, and to those we lost onthat terrible day.”
“Our show of unity and resolve will honor the courage and spirit thatthe people of New York have demonstrated since the tragic terroristattacks,” she said.
Rep Bob Ehrlich, R-Timonium, echoed that sentiment.
“Friday’s legislative session at Federal Hall gives Congress the opportunity to pay tribute to New Yorkers for their resilience after 9-11,” he said. “This is a day of remembrance for all lawmakers, regardless ofpolitical party.”
Democrat Don DeArmon, who is running to unseat Bartlett in Maryland’s6th District, declined to take a dig at Bartlett for his decision to stayhome. But while he supports the tribute, DeArmon said he feels thatlawmakers should focus on other issues.
“I think it’s fitting that they’re having this tribute, but I think it would be more fitting for them to get their budget mess in order,” hesaid.