Updated: 2:26 a.m.
Congressional leaders from both parties cheered Osama bin Laden’s death Sunday, although most cautioned that the nation must not let up on its commitment to defeating terrorist forces.
“This is great news for the security of the American people and a victory in our continued fight against al Qaeda and radical extremism around the world,” Speaker John Boehner said in a statement.
But the Ohio Republican added, “We continue to face a complex and evolving terrorist threat, and it is important that we remain vigilant in our efforts to confront and defeat the terrorist enemy and protect the American people.”
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer also called for continued vigilance against terrorism as he hailed President Barack Obama for stopping the founder and leader of al-Qaida, the terrorist organization responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon.
“President Obama made bin Laden’s death or capture a top priority, and it was that focus that helped bring about our biggest victory against al Qaeda,” the Maryland Democrat said in a statement.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid affirmed lawmakers’ commitment to supporting the U.S. troops and civilians who protect the nation. Bin Laden’s death “is the most significant victory in our fight against al Qaeda and terrorism, but that fight is not over,” the Nevada Democrat said.
Senate Armed Services ranking member John McCain, Obama’s presidential opponent in 2008, said he was “overjoyed” by the news.
“The world is a better and more just place now that Osama bin Laden is no longer in it,” the Arizona Republican said in a statement. “I commend the President and his team, as well as our men and women in uniform and our intelligence professionals, for this superb achievement.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi also heaped praise on Leon Panetta, the CIA director and a fellow California Democrat who once served in the House with her.
“It is a testament to the professionalism of our dedicated national security professionals that no American lives were lost in this operation,” Pelosi said in a statement.
Other lawmakers lauded President George W. Bush for initiating the war on terror following the 2001 attacks that killed nearly 3,000 Americans.
“Nearly a decade ago, in the days after 9/11, President Bush said, ‘Whether we bring our enemies to justice or bring justice to our enemies, justice will be done.’ Tonight, we’ve learned that justice has been done,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said in a statement.
Members from New York, including House Homeland Security Chairman Peter King (R) and Senate Democratic Conference Vice Chairman Charles Schumer, trumpeted Sunday’s announcement as a special victory for the people of the Empire State.
King, who displays a photograph of the twin towers burning in his hearing room, issued a statement quoting Bush from 2001 that the U.S. “will not fail” in its mission to seek justice for the attacks.
“President Bush deserves great credit for putting action behind those words,” King said. “President Obama deserves equal credit for his resolve in this long war against al-Qaeda.”
Still others, like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, echoed Obama’s sentiment that Sunday’s announcement should unify the country.
“On September 11, 2001, America came together and vowed that we would never forget the memory of those whose lives were lost on that terrible day,” the Kentucky Republican said in a statement. “Tonight’s announcement shows that we have made good on that pledge.”