RELEASE: Gottheimer’s Bipartisan Darren Drake Act to be Signed into Law

Dec 23, 2022
Press

NEW MILFORD, NJ

Legislation Named in Memory of New Milford Resident Killed in 2017 NYC West Side Highway Truck Attack 

Help Stop ISIS-Inspired, Lone Wolf Terrorist Vehicle Attacks

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Above: Gottheimer with Jimmy and Barbara Drake.

Today, December 21, 2022, at New Milford Borough Hall just feet away from the Darren Drake Memorial, U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer stood with the family of Darren Drake — who was killed in the 2017 NYC West Side Highway ISIS-inspired lone wolf terrorist truck attack — to announce that his bipartisan Darren Drake Act will be signed into law by the President this week.

In 2021, Gottheimer’s bipartisan Darren Drake Act passed out of the House of Representatives by an overwhelming, bipartisan margin, and it has now officially passed out of the House and Senate, as part of this year’s defense bill.

When enacted into law, the Darren Drake Act will help stop ISIS-inspired, lone-wolf, and other domestic terrorists from easily acquiring trucks and other vehicles used as weapons of war to wreak havoc and cause mass destruction and death. Working closely with vehicle rental companies, and in consultation with federal, state, and local law enforcement, the bipartisan legislation requires the Department of Homeland Security to develop a strategy and take concrete steps to stop vehicular terrorist attacks and save lives.

“Here in America, when we are threatened on our own soil, we can strike back. We must never give into the threat of extremism. And the Darren Drake Act is an example of what we can achieve as Americans when we come together to make positive change. There is nothing political or partisan about it. This commonsense, bipartisan legislation is an important addition to our arsenal as we continue to eradicate threats of terror at home and abroad,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5), a Member of the House Homeland Security Committee. 

Gottheimer continued, “I want to especially thank Darren’s parents, Jimmy and Barbara Drake, who have become dear friends, for working with me over the years on this effort. For never giving up one day over these last five years, despite how much they’ve been through. Despite the emotional, heart wrenching toll. Together, leaning on their strength, and the support of the Jersey community, we stood up to terrorism. We did it to help protect our families and our country. And most importantly, we did it for Darren — to honor his memory. America will be safer — and lives will be saved — because of Darren. Today is a loss for the terrorists, and a win for freedom and democracy.” 

“What I choose to feel is that this is our Congressman’s early Christmas gift to the country. It will be saving lives from terrorists and extremists and people that want to do nothing but hurt and kill,” said Jimmy Drake.

“Jimmy and I would like to thank Congressman Gottheimer for purising this bill and to Congress and the Senate for accepting it as well. While it can’t bring Darren back, it’s something positive that has been created in the way of being able to see more information on the person who is renting a vehicle and in this way possibly saving lives,” said Barbara Drake.

Gottheimer was joined in New Milford today by Darren Drake’s parents, Jimmy and Barbara Drake, New Milford Mayor Michael Putrino, New Milford Councilwoman Lisa Sandhusen, New Milford Councilwoman Hedy Grant, New Milford Councilman Ira Grotsk, New Milford Council President Randi Duffie, Councilman Matthew Seymour, New Milford Police Chief Brian Clancy, Police Captain Nicholas DiGenio, Police Captain Kevin Van Sanders, and local first responders.

Video of today’s announcement can be found here.

Below: Gottheimer in New Milford announcing that his bipartisan Darren Drake Act will be signed into law by the President.

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Below: Moment of silence at the Darren Drake memorial.

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Below: Gottheimer with local law enforcement in New Milford today.

Gottheimer’s remarks as prepared for delivery are below.

Good morning everyone. I want to first thank all of you for joining us here today — Mayor Putrino, Councilwoman Sandhusen, Councilman Grotsky, Councilwoman Duffie, and Councilwoman Grant. 

I want to especially thank Darren’s parents, Jimmy and Barbara Drake, who have become dear friends, for working with me over the years on this effort. For never giving up one day over these last five years, despite how much they’ve been through. Despite the emotional, heart wrenching toll.

So, as much as we wish we never had to be here, today is a good day, albeit a bittersweet one. Today, we recognize Jimmy and Barbara’s unimaginable strength and leadership, because that’s the reason why the President will sign the bipartisan Darren Drake Act into law this week. 

Together, leaning on their strength, and the support of the Jersey community, we stood up to terrorism. We did it to help protect our families and our country. And most importantly, we did it for Darren — to honor his memory. America will be safer — and lives will be saved — because of Darren.  

Today is a loss for the terrorists, and a win for freedom and democracy. 

It’s hard to believe that it’s been more than five years since we lost Darren. Five years since an ISIS-inspired lone wolf terrorist rented a vehicle, used it as a weapon of terror on the West Side Highway, and killed their son and other innocent souls. Five years since Darren’s dad, Jimmy, sat across from me and, with tears in his eyes, declared that no other family should suffer what he, his mother, Barbara, and their family had – and that we must take action, in Congress, in the country they love, to stop any terrorist on American soil from deploying the same heinous tactics that had killed their son.

Years since we first walked the halls of Congress, and I told Jimmy and Barbara getting this done would likely take years. They didn’t blink. They just kept at it. 

Then, last year, just days before the anniversary of his death, the bipartisan Darren Drake Act passed out of the Homeland Security Committee, and then out of the House of Representatives by an overwhelming, bipartisan margin. But we knew our work still wasn’t done that day. 

We continued to fight for its passage in the Senate. Now, after more than five years, we can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. 

I’m proud to announce that the bipartisan Darren Drake Act has officially passed out of the House and Senate, as part of this year’s defense bill, and the President will sign it into law this week.

There is not better place to honor this moment than in the shadow of the memorial honoring Darren.

We tragically lost Darren and seven others on that unseasonably warm Halloween day. Darren Drake could have been any of us. A young man from New Milford, who, like many here in North Jersey, commuted each day to the city, went to mass on Sundays, served on the Board of Education here, volunteered, always giving back, loved spending time with his wonderful family, and worked hard at Moody’s. In between meetings, he would take time to go outside to enjoy a city that he loved so much.

But then, out of nowhere, as we all know, tragedy struck against Darren and America, and, in the process, left behind a wake of sorrow that is hard to imagine, and reminds us, as it’s said in Scripture, that we see through a glass darkly. 

I don’t think any of us will ever understand why God took Darren to heaven that day. Like so many others, I was heart-broken when I heard the news, and, though I wish I had known Darren, I now feel like I do. I have been inspired by all that I learned about Darren, beginning at his wake, where a line of people snaked around the corner — and then hearing so much about his good soul from his parents, friends, and family over these years. Today, in line with all he did here, Darren is continuing to help our country from above — from the Lord’s home. 

As it is said in Timothy, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”   

Darren is continuing to fight the good fight. The Drake Act will help stop these attacks using vehicles as weapons of terror.

These are not just random occurrences. They represent a weapon of mass destruction deployed by terrorists in their fight against peace and democracy. And the Department of Homeland Security has made it very clear that vehicle born threats still remain a major vulnerability.  

In these attacks, often lone wolves, inspired by ISIS and other terrorist organizations, have rented trucks, cars, and vans, evaded law enforcement, and used them as weapons of terror against innocent civilians. No bullets, no missiles, no planes – simply a truck and a terrorist with a clear mission to take lives.

When enacted into law, the Darren Drake Act will help stop ISIS-inspired, lone-wolf, and other domestic terrorists from easily acquiring trucks and other vehicles used as weapons of war to wreak havoc and cause mass destruction and death. 

Working closely with vehicle rental companies, and in consultation with federal, state, and local law enforcement, the bipartisan legislation requires the Department of Homeland Security to develop a strategy and take concrete steps to stop vehicular terrorist attacks and save lives.

This commonsense, bipartisan legislation is an important addition to our arsenal as we continue to eradicate threats of terror at home and abroad.

As I’ve seen first-hand from my work on the House Homeland Security Committee, and as Vice Chair of the Financial Services National Security Subcommittee, violent extremists and lone wolf terrorists remain a national threat. We must continue to take any and all steps possible. 

Here in America, when we are threatened on our own soil, we can strike back. We must never give into the threat of extremism. And the Darren Drake Act is an example of what we can achieve as Americans when we come together to make positive change. There is nothing political or partisan about it. 

I want to reiterate that our community, and the entire State of New Jersey will always remember and honor Darren. Thank you, Jimmy and Barbara, for having the bravery to stand up for our great country — the greatest country in the world — and for always fighting on in Darren’s name to get this legislation signed into law.

Today, we remember Darren and all of those whose lives have been taken by senseless acts of terror and recommit ourselves to taking all of the necessary steps to protect our communities, to fight terror, and any one or any nation who seeks to harm us.

Working together, and saluting our flag, I know that our best days will always be ahead of us.

God bless the Drakes, God bless all of you and this community, God bless our troops, and may God continue to bless and watch over the United States of America.

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