WASHINGTON -- Lawmakers in Congress focused on the attack in Boston Tuesday, with many calling it terrorism and some invoking the tragedies of 9/11.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) offered the most detailed statement among the leaders, calling the Boston Marathon bombings "a grim reminder of the hatred and contempt that many continue to harbor in their hearts not only for our nation and its freedoms but for innocent human life."
He vividly detailed the horror the victims must have faced when a joyous event for thousands turned in a moment to terror.
"Many who were looking forward to celebrating the achievement of a loved one yesterday woke today to the grim reality of facing the rest of their lives with a disfiguring injury," McConnell said. "For them, yesterday's attacks were the beginning of a long, difficult journey. Three others who lined up to encourage others, including an 8-year-old boy who was there to cheer on his dad at the finish line, lost their lives."
But he also used his speech to make a broader point, linking the blasts to the sort of terrorism that was so horribly realized on Sept. 11, 2001, and that McConnell warned was still a real threat.
"On 9/11, we were forever disabused of the notion that attacks like the one that rocked Boston yesterday only happen on the field of battle, or in distant countries," he said. "With the passage of time, however, and the vigilant efforts of our military, intelligence and law enforcement professionals, I think it's safe to say that, for many, the complacency that prevailed prior to September 11th has actually returned. And so we are newly reminded that serious threats to our way of life remain. And today, again, we recommit ourselves to the fight against terrorism at home, and abroad."
McConnell, who offered prayers for the victims' families and praise for those who responded, spoke after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who left open the possible motivation behind the attacks.
"Americans are still reeling from the senseless violence at the Boston Marathon yesterday. Our nation is united in its sympathy for the victims of the attack and their families," Reid said. "Adding to the horror of the tragedy are the questions about who did this and why."
While he did not explicitly call the attacks terrorism, Reid pledged that the bombers would be caught.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) also addressed the horror in his morning press conference, declaring the incident was "a terrorist attack of some sort" and evidence of the war being waged against America.
"We know we're vulnerable. It's talked about almost every day," Boehner said. "But this is a reminder ... just how vulnerable we really are in this era of what I call modern warfare."
McConnell and Boehner's references to terrorism apparently referred to Islamic extremists like those behind the 9/11 attacks, although investigators have not named a suspect in the Boston Marathon attacks.
"Obviously we want to know who did this and why was it done," Boehner said. He added that he was not discouraged by the lack of a suspect. "I am confident we'll get to the bottom of it," he said.
WATCH McConnell above.