WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell delivered the following statement today on the Senate floor on the Asian tsunami disaster:
"Mr. President, the world's thoughts and prayers continue to be focused on the victims of the Asian tsunami. The international community - including governments, private businesses, and ordinary citizens - are providing financial aid and material assistance to affected countries in that region.
President Bush and other world leaders deserve praise for quickly providing substantial assistance and resources to disaster response efforts across that region. They have brought hope and relief in the midst of despair. I want to recognize, in particular, Japan's substantial pledge to ongoing relief efforts.
As Chairman of the Foreign Operations Subcommittee, I intend to continue to work closely with the Administration in the days and weeks to come to assess the damage and provide targeted relief.
Let me close with an observation on Burma. Predictably, information on the extent of damage in Burma is unknown, with the official casualty tally placed by the illegitimate State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) at 59 people. Do international donors, regional governments, or humanitarian NGOs trust this figure? The simple answer, as articulated by Secretary Powell earlier today, is that we do not.
The lack of action or interest in the welfare of the people of Burma, by the military junta, should not be lost on all ASEAN members and their dialogue partners ahead of the SPDC's chairmanship of that organization in 2006.
I want to thank everybody on the ground - from personnel at the State Department, USAID, and the Department of Defense to the dedicated staff of humanitarian organizations - for working around the clock and with respective governments in hard hit countries. Their efforts have not gone unnoticed here in the Senate."