GOP leaders pay tribute to Boston victims, express ‘sorrow’ for families

House Republican leaders on Tuesday paid tribute to the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing, calling it “a terrorist attack” and a reminder of America’s security vulnerabilities.

“I don’t think words can express our sorrow for the families grieving today as a result of what happened in Boston,” Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said following a weekly meeting of the House Republican conference.

“We know we’re vulnerable,” he added later. “We talk about it almost every day, but this is a reminder of just how vulnerable … we really are in this era of what I’ll call modern warfare.”

“We don’t know who perpetrated this or for what reasons, but I’m confident we’ll get to the bottom of it,” Boehner said.

The Speaker and his three top lieutenants scrapped any talk of policy or political messaging at their regular press briefing to mark the tragedy in Boston that left three dead and hundreds injured.

“I know I woke up this morning with an eerie sense of reminder about how we can all be so vulnerable, that the possibility of evil and tragedy occurring is ever real,” Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said. “But I also woke up with a renewed commitment that we can all work together.”

Cantor said the U.S. would have “a determined sense to hold those accountable that perpetrated this terrorist attack.”

The House held a moment of silence to honor the victims on Monday evening, and Boehner ordered flags at the Capitol lowered to half-mast.

The Speaker mentioned the bombing during the closed-door GOP meeting but did not provide any new details on the investigation, a House Republican said.

Boehner, who spoke to President Obama about the bombing on Monday, was asked by a reporter if he considered the incident a “planned terrorist attack” based on his briefings.

“You can describe it a lot of different ways, but it was a terrorist attack of some sort,” he replied.

He said law enforcement officials “are going to have all the resources they need” to investigate the attack.

“Obviously we want to know who did this and why it was done,” Boehner said.