or Login to see your representatives.

Access Candidates' and Representatives' Biographies, Voting Records, Interest Group Ratings, Issue Positions, Public Statements, and Campaign Finances

Simply enter your zip code above to get to all of your candidates and representatives, or enter a name. Then, just click on the person you are interested in, and you can navigate to the categories of information we track for them.

Public Statements

Department of Homeland Security Approproations Act, 2007

Location: Washington, DC




Mr. BIDEN. Mr. President, I call up amendment No. 4553.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report.

The legislative clerk read as follows:

The Senator from Delaware [Mr. BIDEN] proposes an amendment numbered 4553.

Mr. BIDEN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that further reading of the amendment be dispensed with.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

The amendment is as follows:
(Purpose: To increase amounts for the rail and transit security grant programs, and for other purposes)

On page 91, line 6, strike ``$2,393,500,000'' and insert ``$3,493,500,000''.

On page 91, line 22, strike ``$1,172,000,000'' and insert ``$2,272,000,000''.

On page 92, line 13, strike ``$150,000,000'' and insert ``$1,250,000,000''.

On page 92, line 16, before the semicolon, insert the following: ``, of which--

(i) $670,000,000 shall be for tunnel upgrades along the Northeast corridor;

(ii) $250,000,000 shall be for passenger and freight rail security grants;

(iii) $100,000,000 shall be for research and development of bomb detection technology; and

(iv) $65,000,000 shall be for intercity passenger rail security upgrades, of which $25,000,000 shall be used--

(I) to provide a 25 percent salary increase for existing Amtrak Police personnel; and

(II) to expand the Amtrak police force by 200 officers

Mr. BIDEN. Mr. President, I realize that particularly the Presiding Officer and my friends from New Hampshire and Washington State are probably tired of hearing me stand up year after year since 9/11 and talk about rail security or the lack thereof in the United States of America. This amendment is about rail security.

The funding made available in this amendment is, unfortunately, something that I have, with others, fought for without success since 9/11. In fact, immediately after 9/11, I introduced legislation that is very similar to the amendment I am offering today that would provide critical resources to enhance rail security and rail infrastructure. Almost 5 years later, after introducing the legislation in the 108th Congress and the 109th Congress, we have done virtually nothing.

In March of 2004, our allies in Spain suffered an attack on their rail system that killed 191 people. We did nothing. We did nothing at home. Just over 1 year ago, terrorists in London killed 52 people and injured over 700, mostly on rail. We did virtually nothing. The attack in London occurred just 1 week before we had a debate on the 2006 Homeland Security budget. Unbelievably, we approved only $150 million for rail and transit, with only $7 million going to Amtrak, which carries, by the way, 64,000 passengers per day--hardly, I would say, a serious effort.

Just yesterday, in Mumbai, India, there was another attack on rail. So far there are 190 confirmed dead, 714 people injured. To state the obvious, I am sure every one of my colleagues feels as I do, but our thoughts and prayers are with those who were harmed in yesterday's attack. As they described in today's New York Times and I am sure every other paper in the Nation, there was baggage and body parts strewn for hundreds and hundreds of yards around the site of the explosion. Coincidentally, here at home we are debating again the appropriations bill for Homeland Security.

I wonder how long we can dodge the bullet. I wonder how long it will be that we can avoid accountability for what we are not doing to protect our rail and transit system. I don't know what it is going to take for us to wake up and take this threat seriously. Certainly everyone understands here at home that the threat is real and it is at home. The FBI has warned us of the threat to our rails. In fact, the Central Intelligence Agency has found photos of rail stations and rail crossings in safe houses in Afghanistan. I am sure they weren't doing that for a geography project for their kids. It was about looking at targets in America.

Remember when we saw that they had taken photos of American buildings, what we did? We immediately mobilized our security forces around those buildings here in the United States, because we knew if they had photos of those buildings tacked up on the walls they must be thinking of them as targets. What do we need? Do we need someone from al-Qaida to write us a note and say: ``By the way, folks, we are planning on attacking your rail system''? ``We are not going to tell you when, but we are going to attack your rail system.'' What do we need? What do we need to be able to jog the--not ``conscience,'' that may be the wrong word--jog this body into a sense of reality?

We have still done virtually nothing. Since 9/11 the administration invested over $25 billion in aviation security, primarily to screen passengers. I voted for that, I agree with that--$25 billion. During the same period, less than $600 million has been allocated for rail and transit systems that carry a whole heck of a lot more passengers. This year's budget includes an additional $6 billion for aviation security, which I support. Only $150 million has been allocated for rail and transit security. Out of the $150 million allocated for rail and transit funding this year, $7 million went to Amtrak. I don't think that is a serious effort--again, 64,000 people a day.

I understand you can't protect every single inch of our vast rail structure but we can do some pretty commonsense things, some block-and-tackle things that we know will make us a lot safer. I can't stop anyone, nor are we likely to be able to stop anyone, from putting an IED that is fashioned in America on a track somewhere between here and Wilmington, DE, when I take the train every day. I am not asking for that. But I will tell you what we can do. What we can do is go to those areas we know are prime targets, where hundreds if not thousands of people could die if al-Qaida or any of their copycat organizations decided to move on rail and were successful.

Take a walk over to Union Station. Union Station is just down the street in that direction. I walk to it or drive to it every single night the Senate is in session. I come from it every day. It is the single most visited place in Washington. Do you hear me? The single most visited place in Washington, DC. More people are in and out of that station than are at any museum, than visit the Congress, the White House, the FBI. It is the single most visited place in Washington, DC.

Take a look. As I say to security people, get with me on an Amfleet train. Not an Acela, because they don't have the old kind of caboose on it. Stand in the last car and look out the window as you pull out of the train station. Tell me how many cameras you observe. Tell me how many cops you see. Tell me how many bits of protection--whether it is fencing or alarm systems--that are on the switching devices that are in that yard. Tell me how many folks you see wandering the yard where you see trains stacked up, where people can cross around just a plain old chain-link fence and put some C2 up underneath an existing train.

Or travel from Washington south. You go underneath the Supreme Court. You go underneath one of the House office buildings. Tell me what you see. Are there any guards patrolling that area? I am not going to say, because people will say to me, You are just giving terrorists information. I promise you, they already know it. You would be stunned how few law enforcement officers are on duty at any one time in that entire infrastructure.

My amendment simply makes the investment that the experts who have testified have repeatedly told us is needed. It would provide an additional $1.1 billion for rail security upgrades. Out of this amount we would provide $670 million to upgrade the tunnels along the Northeast corridor to add ventilation, lighting, escape routes, in some cases cameras, and the ability to be able to patrol those tunnels.

I will not take the time because my colleagues have heard me do it 1,000 times. The tunnel that goes from here heading to Boston--in fact, it goes through the State of Maryland, through Baltimore--it was built, I think, in 1869. Next time you ride through it, look and see if you see any ventilation. Tell me what you see in terms of lighting. Tell me what you see about any prospect of someone being able to escape from that tunnel. Tell me if you see any security going in and out of that tunnel.

It seems like a long time ago, I have been doing it so long, there was a fire in a tunnel. It was just a plain old fire, not a rail tunnel, another tunnel going into Baltimore. The fire shut down all the harbor, and it shut down all of south Baltimore.

If you go up into New York, you have six tunnels sitting under New York City without any appreciable work being done on any of them since, roughly, 1918. Ask any expert about ventilation. Why am I talking about ventilation? Drop sarin gas in that tunnel, drop another chemical in that tunnel, and tell me what happens without any ventilation to suck it out. Tell me what you see in those tunnels. Ask those experts what chance there is of escape. I will go back to that in a minute.

There is $250 million to be allocated to general security upgrades for freight rail operations, including transport of hazardous material. I had an amendment here on another bill not long ago because I asked the Naval Research Institute, NRI, to answer a question for me. Again, I apologize to my colleagues from Washington and New Hampshire for continuing to repeat this, but I asked the question: What would happen if a chlorine gas tanker exploded in a metropolitan area?

Remember, I guess it was a year or year and a half ago, one exploded up in the Dakotas--not near any big city. They had to evacuate several towns in the region. I said, What would happen?

The standard chlorine gas tanker on rails is about 90 tons. What happens if one of those were exploded? They said it would kill or injure up to 100,000 people.

I had an amendment. Why don't we allow the cities to be able to divert these hazardous cars around the cities. It got voted down--I actually did get a vote on it--because it would somehow increase the cost of doing business. It would increase the cost of doing business.

Maybe I am missing something here. The only thing I can believe is that most of my colleagues also think that this is not likely to happen, that these guys aren't going to go after transit, they are not going to go after freight rail, they are not going to go after passenger rail. They really don't mean it so we don't really have to worry.

It reminds me of that Calypso song that was popular about a decade go, ``Don't worry, be happy.''

Yet if we look around the world, bombings and attacks on rail systems are becoming increasingly sophisticated. They are carried out by terrorist groups. Before 9/11 when we saw these terrorist activities happening in Europe and other parts of the world, we just seemed impervious to it. ``It can't happen here. It won't happen here.''

I made a speech on September 10. I ask unanimous consent that a copy of it be printed in the RECORD.

There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in the RECORD, as follows:

U.S. Foreign Policy in the 21st Century: Defining Our Interests in a Changing World

My mother wanted me to be a priest or a politician, and for the longest time I didn't think you could do both. But you can. Any rate, obviously not a lot of Irish-Catholics in this room.

Well, what I want to know before we begin is--Chestnut Hill Academy is here, I'm told, from Philadelphia. And what I want to know is, when I went to a Catholic boys' school in Claymont, Delaware, called Archmere, Chestnut Hill Academy used to occasionally beat us--more occasionally than was necessary. And I want to know, are you guys here in support or opposition? What's the deal?

Welcome, fellas. I don't know why you're here, but it's nice to see you all here. Thank you for being here.

It is true, I am now the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee--through no fault of my own. My dad has an expression: It's better to be lucky than good. I am chairman because one man in Vermont decided he was going to leave one political party and giving my party the ability to organize the Senate. For that, I am grateful, but I want you to know I understand that this could change any day.

By the way, the president and I agree on a lot of things, and we sincerely do. I thought the president's first trip to Europe quelled a lot of concerns and nerves on the part of our European friends, who are always upset and always nervous with any transition in power in the United States. I think the president did an extremely good job in the incident relating to our, quote, ``spy plane'' being down. I think the president has done some very, very good things.

I do have a profound disagreement with the president's view of national missile defense and whether or not, at the end of the day, it would make us more or less secure.

At the end of the Cold War, when the wall came down, we found ourselves on the brink of extraordinary changes. All of us were wondering what it would mean and where this would lead. Was it the beginning of something or the end of something? And if it was the beginning, were we, the United States, the only remaining superpower, going to get it right?

On that night, we were all idealists, but a new day dawned and a harsh reality came into focus. It became clear that long-standing ethnic, religious, tribunal and nationalistic divisions had not changed, while America's place in the world had changed profoundly.

From that day on, we inherited a profound obligation of leadership, and an even more profound obligation to get it right in the Middle East, in the Balkans, in Europe and Asia, in our hemisphere, in our commitments, our treaties and in our defense policy--missile or otherwise.

Now, the spotlight remains on us and is brighter than ever. We're at a pivotal moment when American values and principles have taken center stage like no other time in our history in the global theater. How we perform on that stage is as much about our honor, our decency, our pride, as it is about our strategic policy.

So before we go raising the starting gun that will begin a new arm's race in the world, before we dip into the Social Security trust fund to satisfy the administration's almost theological allegiance to missile defense at the expense of more earth-bound military and international treaties, before we watch China build up its nuclear arsenal and see an arm's race in Asia and in the sub-continent, before we squander the best opportunity we've had in a generation to modernize our conventional nuclear forces, let's look at the real threats we face home and abroad. Let's re-engage and rethink and meet our obligations with a strength and resolve that befits our place in this new world.

American foreign policy should not be based primarily on the principle of national self-interest that defines strength as rigid adherence to inflexible theory, or positive results as emotionally satisfying unilateral action.

I don't believe our national interests can be furthered, let alone achieved, in splendid indifference to the rest of the world's views of our policies. Our interests are furthered when we meet our international obligations and when we keep our treaties. They're furthered when we maintain an unequal military, able to deter any threat at any place at any time and anywhere, when we keep our economy strong, when we make wise choices that solves real problems, when we stand bound together as democracies--multi-racial, multi-ethnic, multi-religious beacons of hope--not some dark house next door.

President Reagan's image of a ``shining city on a hill'' held out America as an ideal to millions and millions of people around the world, a nation that reaches out to its allies and adversaries alike, with undiluted, unequivocal message that democracy works, freedom is worth the fight, and that America will always be a reliable friend of those who take the risk of achieving the goals of democracy.

We can't forget or simply disregard the responsibilities that flow from our ideals. We can't lose sight of the fact that leadership requires engagement, and partnership demands inclusivity. Let there be no mistake, America must remain at the table because walking away comes at a price. Our European allies should never think that America ignores international opinion or that we're ready to go it alone when we feel like it. They should never think that our commitment to a vital multi-national institutions, or projects, which are built upon common values and common concerns--and that includes NATO--has diminished.

We became a European power in the 20th century, and out of our self-interest, we must remain a European power in the 21st century. We've got to get it right in Europe. We have to stay engaged in the Balkans--as this administration appears to be doing--and bring them, the Balkans, into the European community. It's in our naked self-interest.

But let's understand that our foreign policy is as much about American values as it is about complex multinational treaties or arcane intricacies of strategic policy.

When I think of the moral imperative of American leadership, I think of an America founded upon the unshakable, bedrock democratic principles, but willing to accept the principal ideals and cultural dynamics and genuine concerns of our allies; a nation that has a powerful sense of place in the geopolitical scheme of things--one that is tough-minded when it comes to our own security, yet has broad enough vision and a strong enough will to contribute to peaceful solutions where age-old strains of nationalism and religious-based divisions wreak havoc; a government that doesn't abandon arms control treaties with the excuse that they are relics of the Cold War.

I might note parenthetically, I think many of those uttering that phrase are in fact themselves the relics of the Cold War. They have not come to understand the wall is down and the last time they were in power it was up. Half this city doesn't realize that.

And not abandon these agreements as relics of the Cold War because it's (inaudible) to honor them because we've negotiated them in good faith, we signed and ratified them, and because they have stood the test of time in serving our national interest and other nation's expect us to keep our promises; a unique and strong nation that isn't confused about its role and responsibilities and doesn't walk away from the table, but sits down, rolls up its sleeves and convinces the world of our position; a nation that thinks big and sees freedom in global economic growth as consensus ideals.

I think of America vastly different--so unburdened of the old Cold War fears and feelings that it's willing to do a little soul-searching. Are we a nation of our word or not? Do we keep our treaties or don't we? Are we willing to lead the hard way, because leadership isn't easy and requires us convincing others? Diplomacy isn't easy. Multilateral policy initiatives aren't easy.

Or are we willing to end four decades of arms control agreements to go it alone--a kind of bully nation sometimes a little wrong-headed, but ready to make unilateral decisions in what we perceive to be our self-interest, and to hell with our treaties, our commitments and the world?

Are we really prepared to raise the starting gun in the new arms race in a potentially more dangerous world? Because, make no mistakes about it, folks, if we deploy a missile defense system that's being contemplated, we could do just that.

Step back from the ABM Treaty, go full steam ahead and deploy a missile defense system, and we'll be raising the starting gun. If the president continues to go headlong, headstrong on this theological mission to develop his missile defense system, if he does what he says and drops objections to China's missile buildup, not only will we have raised the starting gun, we'll have pulled back the hammer.

Let's stop this nonsense before we end up pulling the trigger.

China now has about 20 intercontinental ballistic missiles, but according to press reports, the National Intelligence Council thinks that China might deploy up to 200 warheads, develop sophisticated decoys and perhaps move to multiple warheads in response to a missile defense system.

It seems to me it's absolute lunacy for us to invite China to expand its arsenal and resume nuclear testing, not to mention that moving forward with missile defense could jeopardize Chinese cooperation on the Korean Peninsula.

Let me remind you all that there are two types of modernization they talk about. And there's no doubt the Chinese are going to modernize. But up to recently, what most people thought the modernization meant and our community thought it meant was moving, for example, from liquid fuel rockets to solid fuel rockets. Moving from systems that were not mobile at all to more mobile systems.

Not increasing, as the press has reported, 10-fold more than they would have if we build a national missile defense. Not MIRVing their missiles, meaning put more than one atom bomb or hydrogen bomb on top of an ICBM. The most destabilizing weapon that exists.

I found it interesting, on MacNeil-Lehrer, Secretary Rumsfeld saying that it wasn't the question of MIRVing that was important, it was a question of the total number of missiles.

Well, George--President Bush, the first President Bush--understood that it was more than that. We fought for years and years to do away with the big SS-18 Soviet missiles. Why? Because they're what we saw, I say to the gentleman from Chestnut Hill Academy, they're what we call a use-or-lose weapon.

Because they have such an incredible concentration of power, you assume that they will be struck first. Therefore, if there is a warning that you're under attack, which sometimes they're mistaken, they're on a hair trigger and you must launch them or lose them.

That's why we're so fearful that the Russians will keep their MIRVed systems, because they have such a porous defense system. They have such a porous early warning system. And as a nun I used to have would say, in a slightly different context, ``the only nuclear war that's worse than one that is intended is one that wasn't intended.''

In Seoul, I spoke with President Kim Dae-jung of South Korea about ways to bring North Korea, which is the new bogeyman that we're all looking at now, which is the justification for this pell-mell race to produce the international missile defense, how to bring them into the family of nations.

He urged me to encourage the administration to engage North Korea in senior-level dialogue and not allow a theological commitment to missile defense to blind us to the prospects of signing a verifiable agreement to end North Korea's development, deployment and export of long-range missiles.

Yesterday, Dr. Rice, on Meet the Press--she and I were on Meet the Press--she talked about how ubiquitous these long-range missile systems were. I don't know what she's talking about. We're getting briefed by two different groups of CIA people, I guess, because none of these rogue nations have that capacity yet. They may get it. It is maybe within their reach, but it does not exist now.

If we spur on an aggressive Chinese buildup, including the need to test--and you know why they will have to test. When you put more than one--I know most of you know this, but it's worth repeating--you put more than one atom or hydrogen weapon on top of a rocket, it requires more throw weight in that rocket. It has to be more powerful.

So practically what you have to do is you have to make smaller, more compact missile warheads. And in order to be able to be sure they work, you've got to test them. So if, in fact, the Chinese are going to move to a modernized system that requires--that's going to contemplate MIRVed ICBMs, they're going to have to test.

That's why I got so upset by the statement read by the press account that we appeared to be willing to trade off, in return for them not objecting to our building the national missile defense system, the possibility that we would look the other way when China tested and that we understood they were going to have a considerable buildup.

That's what I call a self-fulfilling prophesy.

And let me ask you the question: Consider what India is likely to do if China tests. Those of you who know the subcontinent know that there's been an incredible political tug to have another test of their, quote, ``hydrogen weapon,'' because they believe the world does not believe that they successfully tested one, and they want the world to believe they have one.

And what do you think happens when India tests, if China tests?

What do you think happens in Pakistan? Pakistan, I believe, would ratchet up its production. And consider that Taiwan, the two Koreas or Japan or all of them could build their own nuclear weapons. Japan has the capacity within one year to become a nuclear power.

That greatest generation that Tom Brokaw speaks of, my mother and father's generation, did two incredibly good things, and I mean this as not an insult, to particularly my German friend. Germany is a non-nuclear power and Japan is a non-nuclear power. That's good for the world. I want to be no party to setting in motion a series of events that will cause the Japanese Diet to reconsider whether they should rely upon the nuclear umbrella of the United States.

And as the former chancellor of Germany, Helmut Schmidt, once said to me, sitting in his office 15 years ago, he said, ``You don't understand, Joe, my son's generation does not feel the same sense of obligation or guilt that mine does.''

Are we so dead set positive that a missile defense system furthers our national interest that we're willing to risk an arms race? So sure of the science that we're willing to weaponize space and nuclearize Asia?

Are we so sure of the feasibility that we'll divert potentially hundreds of billions of dollars from the real needs of our military?

Look, the fact is we could weaponize space or we could buy 339 F-22s to replace our aging F-15 fleet for $62 billion. We could replace aging F-16s, A-10s, A-14s with a Joint Strike Fighter for the cost of $223 billion. We could replace the Cobra and Kiowa warrior helicopters for $39 billion. I could go on and on.

But in short, we could provide our Army, our Navy, Air Force and Marines virtually everything they need in the immediate future for a more stealth, more significant lift capacity military to deal with the real threats we face and still spend less on all of that than we will spend on the national missile defense system.

We're facing a difficult budget fight with a consequence of the turndown in the economy, the business cycle, the $1.3 trillion tax cut, or all of the above, and we can't have our cake and eat it too. The administration would like us to think it's all possible, but it's not all possible.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, we may have already dipped into the Social Security trust fund, which we used to do regularly in years past, but which we all promised we wouldn't do anymore, we would have a lock box. And that $21 billion or more will be consumed from that lock box in the next three years. This is a very different economic picture than projections of just a few months ago.

Missile defense has to be weighed carefully against all other spending and all other military priorities, which we're not debating or doing right now. And in truth, our real security needs are much more earthbound and far less costly than national missile defense.

If you combine the $1.3 trillion tax cut with what we've spent on a full-blown missile defense shield, we could start to modernize our conventional forces, build a stealthier, more mobile, more self-sufficient military that I believe is needed in the 21st century, and make significant impact on rectifying what is going to be a gigantic problem in 10 years in Social Security.

Let's be clear: When it comes to defense, it's not the president's missile defense or nothing, as the way it's being posed. We should improve military personnel retention and overall readiness; bring on the next generation of fighter aircraft, the next generation of helicopters, the next generation of destroyers; and be fully prepared for the next generation of engagement.

And while we're at it, we may fix the plumbing in the barracks at Taipei, which I just visited, which the night before I came, because they are so aged and we don't have the money to fix them, they had to bring in water hoses from outside to allow the women and men in there to be able to shave, to be able to use the bathrooms, let alone drink any water. Visit the conditions in which our active military are living now--two and three in a room. You think when you drop your kid off at a college dormitory and you're paying 30 grand to send him to a prestigious school is hard to take, take a look at the conditions they live in. And why are we not responding to it? We don't have the money, we are told.

My dad used to say, and still says, ``Son, if everything is equally important to you, nothing is important to you.'' Our priorities, I think, are a little out of whack. I've said, and I'll say it again, we should be fully funding the military and defending ourselves at home and abroad against the more likely threats of short-range cruise missiles or biological terrorism.

Last week, the Foreign Relations Committee began hearings on how to build a so-called ``homeland'' defense and to protect our military from bioterrorism pathogens and chemical attacks; on how we can deploy a missile defense system that doesn't trade off conventional modernization of our military for a fantasy of some system that remains more flawed than feasible; on how we can jump-start the destruction of Russia's massive chemical weapons stockpile and secure all our nuclear materials.

The very day they send up a budget that tells they are going to increase by 8-point-some billion our missile defense initiative, they cut the program that exists between us and Russia to help them destroy their chemical weapons, keep their scientists from being for sale and destroy their nuclear weapons.

I've said, and I'll say it again, we should work with Russia and China and all of our allies to stem proliferation of weapons of mass destruction; we should try to rely on some mutual deterrence, rather than thinking we can replace it, because, in fact, deterrence works.

We should support research and development in boost phase interceptors that would avoid the countermeasures and would be more acceptable to Russia and China, limiting the possibility of ending Russia's adherence to START II and lessening the prospects of a new arms race in Asia than what we are now proposing.

We should strive through hard-nosed diplomacy to delay and eliminate the long-range ballistic threat by ending North Korea's program and its sale of long-range missile technology. We should build a combined offensive and defensive system that we know works before we deploy it. And we should amend the ABM Treaty and not walk away from it.

Having said that, let's put the cost and the effectiveness of this missile defense system being discussed today in some context so that everyone understands exactly what we're talking about. The cheapest realistic system suggested, national missile defense system, limited national missile defense system suggested by this administration, which relies on the same midcourse interceptors the Clinton administration proposed, would cost at a minimum $60 billion over 20 years and most suggest it would be closer to $100 billion.

And remember, this is only for a system that's incapable of shooting down a missile carrying biological weapons, incapable of shooting down a missile carrying chemical weapons, at least for now incapable of shooting down a missile with an unsophisticated tumbling warhead that will look just like a tumbling trajectory.

In order to combat what are known as countermeasures, such as those decoys or the submunitions that carry biological weapons, the administration proposes a layered defense. That means, a missile defense that begins with a boost phase interceptor, that is, catching the rocket as it takes off from behind, at its slowest point and nearest point; continues with a midcourse interceptor, that is, getting it out there in the atmosphere and a bullet hitting a bullet; and finishes with a terminal defense as it's coming down.

Now, you think the midcourse system we're working on is expensive. Help me calculate the cost of a layered missile defense, where we haven't even begun some of the research.

One recent estimate for that system is a quarter trillion dollars, and I think that, too, is a conservative figure, because the truth is that the administration has yet to comprehend the full complexities and the technological challenges of a layered defense. If you doubt me, ask folks like General Welch and others who used to run the show.

In my view, that full-blown layered missile defense system, which doesn't address a single real issue on the ground, is more likely to cost a half a trillion dollars. And what will it get us? For half a trillion dollars we may get a layered defense system that's not been defined yet. If it includes space-based lasers, you've now weaponized outer space, which invites other countermeasures to attack the satellites on which we depend for information and communications.

But it still won't be 100 percent effective. Secretary Rumsfeld, speaking about our national missile defense system on the Lehrer NewsHour earlier this year, said that a system would not have to be 90 or even 80 percent effective, but only 70 percent effective. Secretary Rumsfeld, in referring to a, quote, ``0.7 success rate,'' said, and I quote, ``That's plenty.''

Folks, 30 percent failure for any national defense system could be called plenty of things, but plenty successful is not one of them. Think about it.


Let's say President Richard Ryan becomes president of the United States. And the head of a rogue state tells him, which is how the scenario goes, ``I'm invading my neighborhood today. And if you try to stop me, I'll fire my ICBMs at you.'' Never mind that he won't do that because he knows he'd be annihilated within a matter of 30 minutes. But President Ryan turns to his national security adviser, as I always do, Carl Wiser, and says, ``Carl, what do I do?''

And Carl says, ``Don't worry, we have a missile defense system. And unlike Rumsfeld's 0.7, ours is 0.9 effective.''

President Ryan says, ``Oh. There's a 10 percent chance then of losing Detroit?''

And Carl says, ``Well that depends. If they fire seven missiles, the odds of losing at least one city will be 50-50. Because guess what: 0.9 means that not 90 percent fired will get through, 0.9 means that for every missile fired, that single missile has a nine out of 10 chance of getting through. You get to seven, it's about a 50-50 chance that one gets through. If you do the 0.7, you fire two missiles, there's an equal chance one is going to get through.''

So now President Ryan says, ``You know, these guys that designed this system are right. This enables me to not be blackmailed. I'm supposed to feel like I have freedom of action thanks to this defense.''

And Carl says, ``Hey look, Rumsfeld told Jim Lehrer that 70 percent effectiveness would be enough, at least initially. And with that system there's a 50-50 chance of losing at least one city if that rogue state fires two missiles. We're better off than we were.''

And I assume that this scenario which they lay out means, where Ryan is president, he's going to say, ``You know, I really have some flexibility now. I'm only going to lose Detroit or San Francisco or Cleveland or Dallas, so I can really move here with dispatch. I've got flexibility. I don't have upon deterrence.''

Now, I know you think I'm being a wise guy here, but sometimes it's useful to reduce this complex nuclear theological discussion to reality. If I'm president, does that give me more flexibility?

Does that allow me to say, ``I'm only going to lose one or two population centers, therefore I have more flexibility to do anything other than say, `If you do, we will annihilate you'?''

I also find it fascinating, this whole premise is based upon the notion that defense no longer works. Deterrence no longer works.

Now, I say this, and there's a television audience listening: Help educate me. Name me a time in the last 500 years when the leader of a nation-state has said, ``I know I face virtual annihilation if I take the following action, but I'm go ahead, and I'm going to do it anyway.''

Saddam Hussein, the certifiable maniac--when George I said to him, ``If you do we will take you out,'' what did he do with 500,000 forces marching on Baghdad? He had those Scud missiles everybody talks about as a justification for building the system. He had chemical weapons. He had biological weapons. Why did he not use them if deterrence does not work?

I just find the basic premise upon which this whole argument rests and the sense of urgency a little wanting. Think about it. We will have spent potentially up to a half a trillion dollars for a system that might work nine out of 10 times, assuming the administration knows how to build it, that, one, won't give the president the freedom of action.

One, that won't give the Pentagon what it really needs, won't modernize our conventional forces, and without being able to say, ``Yes, we've saved Social Security for even one more day.'' That's the system we're going to build.

Remember now, folks, they don't know what it looks like, they don't even have it on paper, they have tested a system in one mode that, God bless our incredible technology, it worked, and I vote to pay for them to continue to do that research. But they're willing to pull out of an ABM Treaty that sends the signal to the rest of the world the end of arms control has arrived. And what protection do we have in the near term, let alone down the road?

Sure, we'll do all we can to defend ourselves against any threat, nobody denies that, but even the Joint Chiefs says that a strategic nuclear attack is less likely than a regional conflict, a major theater war, terrorist attacks at home or abroad, or any number of other real issues. We'll have diverted all that money to address the least likely threat, while the real threat comes to this country in the hold of a ship, the belly of a plane, or smuggled into a city in the middle of the night in a vial in a backpack.

And I ask you, you want to do us damage, are you more likely to send a missile you're not sure can reach us with a biological or chemical weapon because you don't have the throw weight to put a nuclear weapon on it and no one's anticipating that in the near term, with a return address saying, ``It came from us, here's where we are?'' Or are you more likely to put somebody with a backpack crossing the border from Vancouver down to Seattle, or coming up the New York Harbor with a rusty old ship with an atom bomb sitting in the hull? Which are you more likely to do? And what defense do we have against those other things?

Watch these hearings we're about to have. We don't have, as the testimony showed, a public health infrastructure to deal with the existing pathogens that are around now. We don't have the investment, the capability to identify or deal with an anthrax attack. We do not have, as Ambassador to Japan now, Howard Baker, and his committee said, the ability to curtail the availability of chemical weapons lying around the Soviet Union, the former Soviet Union and Russia, because they don't know what to do with it.

They showed us a report where they showed us photographs of things that look like large outhouses, clapboard buildings, with no windows and padlocks on the door, that have as many chemical weapons in that building to destroy the bulk of the East Coast--and we're not spending the money to help them corral and destroy that in the name of this search? The cost estimate was $30 billion over 10 years in this bipartisan commission, and it was listed as the most urgent threat to the United States of America.

The truth is, technology will keep outpacing our capacity to build an effective system, which may well be obsolete or penetrable by the time it's done. And that means we'll continually increase our capability, and in turn, so will those who are trying to penetrate it. And so the new arms race begins.

Forty-nine Nobel Prize-winning scientists sent a letter to President Clinton last year opposing the deployment of the limited antiballistic missile system the president was contemplating, and I'll quote from the letter. Quote: ``The system would offer little protection, would do grave harm to this nation's core security interest,'' end of quote.

They went on to say, and I quote--these are now, we're talking about 49 Nobel laureates--``We and other independent scientists have long argued that antiballistic missile systems, particularly those attempting to intercept reentry vehicles in space, will inevitably lose in an arms race of improvements in offensive capability.''

That night in 1989 when the wall came down and we wondered where it would lead, another arms race was the furthest thing from any of our minds. The idea that our allies would question our commitment and our resolve, even our motives, was unthinkable.

Our place in the world seemed secure. The world was looking to us to demonstrate leadership, and it still is.

Let's think about how we felt that night. The feeling that something good was happening and something even better was on the horizon. It was as if the world had awoken from a long, bad dream into a new era in which old values and old prejudices would no longer prevail, and new values and new ideals, wherever they were to be found, would be found and make us all more secure.

Folks, let's not now raise the starting gun on a new arm's race that is sure, I promise you, to make my children and my grandchildren and these students assembled here feel less secure than we feel today.

Thank you very much for listening.

Mr. BIDEN. On September 10, the day before the attacks on the towers, I made a speech to the National Press Club where I warned about a massive attack on the United States of America from terrorists; why I thought it would happen and why I thought our priorities were misplaced--the day before 9/11. I had no knowledge of 9/11, but I have been working in this field, like my colleagues on the floor, for 30 years. There was an inevitability to it. But we did nothing.

I feel like we are in that same ``Alice in Wonderland'' suspension when it comes to rail. It is either it is so big you can't protect everything so don't protect anything--like it was before. Our country is so big and so open there is nothing much we can do about terror. And the second subparagraph before 9/11 was: By the way, it is not likely to happen here.

Why? Why is it not likely to happen here?

There is $250 million to be allocated to general security upgrades for freight rail operations. That includes things like putting cameras in freight yards so you have somebody watching who is wandering around those yards and maybe sticking something up underneath 90-ton chlorine gas tanker cars or putting in a boxcar a dirty bomb, a home-made weapon.

It also provides $65 million to go specifically to Amtrak security upgrades for hiring officers. We had an interesting thing. We have a relatively small number of officers on Amtrak. If you go from here to fly out of Reagan Airport,

if you go out of Dulles or Reagan Airport or the Philadelphia airport or LaGuardia or Newark or L.A. or O'Hare or Atlanta, you are going to go through, en route to your gate, probably as many security officers, including the folks inspecting your bags, as exist in all of Amtrak.

Did you hear me? Let me say that again.

I guarantee you that going through the screening area you are going to run into not just the people looking at you in the area you go through, but you are likely to run into more TSA screeners than exist in any one station in the United States of America.

I received a note indicating that I am needed urgently. If I could suspend for a minute and come back and pick up where I left off, I suggest the absence of a quorum.


Mr. BIDEN. Madam President, I thank my colleagues. I apologize. It was an unusual request--an urgent message which turned out not to be urgent. I apologize.

The point I was making is $65 million goes specifically to Amtrak security upgrades. Specifically, things such as hiring officers, increasing K9 patrols, increasing fencing, lighting, and cameras in areas where the security experts indicate they are badly needed.

There is $100 million for R&D. I will not take the time of the Senate to go into any of the ways in which to deal with tunnels and innovative ways to deal with detection of chemicals, et cetera, and biological agents.

Before I close, I would like to point out a very troubling problem relating to rail police which this amendment addresses. We are all aware of the problems that this agency faces due to budget shortfalls. In particular, the police force is woefully inadequate for the job it is assigned to do. The amendment would add 200 Amtrak police officers and will provide a 25-percent salary increase for existing officers.

You ask: Why is that the case? This funding is critical because the Amtrak police department cannot pay anything remotely approaching the competitive wage rate of other police officers. This contributes to an incredibly high turnover.

An entry-level Amtrak police officer makes only $31,000 with a maximum, no matter how long he or she stays on the force and no matter what responsibility, of $51,000. By contrast, a Boston police department entry-level officer makes $49,000, and a U.S. Capitol Police officer entry level makes $46,746.

This presents a problem with recruiting and turnover.

Between 1997 and 2003, Amtrak lost 190 of its officers, with only 20 percent to retirement, and hired only 184. As a result, Amtrak has only 300 officers in the entire system nationwide, 20 percent below its inadequate authorized level.

I have been working with the Amtrak police department and the Fraternal Order of Police for some time to address the disparity.

This amendment sets aside $25 million to add 200 police officers and gives existing officers a 25-percent pay raise. And still they will not be competitive enough relative to other agencies.

This funding is critical. We have neglected rail security since 9/11, and we have had wake-up call after wake-up call.

This year, just as last year, our strong ally has experienced a deadly attack at the same time we are addressing homeland security appropriations at home. I pray to God that next year, as we address this, we are not responding to what might happen to our rail system.

When are we going to wake up?

I would like to draw attention to the 9/11 Commission's report card issued this past December.

I think it was December 5. Don't hold me to that exactly, but it was in December. It found, in respect to our Nation's critical infrastructure, the following:

No risk and vulnerability assessments have actually been made, no national priorities established, no recommendations made on the allocation of scarce resources, and all key decisions are at least 1 year away.

It is time that we stop talking about priorities and actually set them.

With this amendment, we establish rail security as a priority.

I urge my colleagues to finally, for Lord's sake, deal with this. At any one moment today in New York City, there will be, in an aluminum tube in a tunnel underneath that city or standing on a platform, over 20,000 people. How many people are on a 747--500, 600? I don't know the number, but 20,000 people in a relatively confined space at any one time sitting in aluminum tubes in tunnels where there is virtually no protection--and standing on platforms. We all go to New York. Go on up there and look at Penn Station. Get off the train. Walk around and tell me how many police officers you identify. You will find more in your hometown.

We have to do something.

I thank my colleagues for listening to me once again. I hope I will not make this speech again next year as a consequence of another serious rail attack. I pray to God it is not at home.

I yield the floor. I thank the Chair.

Mr. BIDEN. Will the Senator permit me to respond, briefly?

Mr. GREGG. The floor is the Senator's.

Mr. BIDEN. I ask unanimous consent Senator Clinton be added as a cosponsor.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

Mr. BIDEN. Madam President, let me deal with a piece at a time, to the cogent arguments my friend from New Hampshire has made and thank him for the acknowledgment that there may be a need to do more on rail.

First of all, I find the whole debate about homeland security, which is beyond the purview of this debate, somewhat fascinating. The 9/11 Commission tells us we should be spending over $42 billion over the next 5 years to deal with what they believe and identify as serious threats which are woefully inadequate, where they give the mark to the Congress and the Senate of a D or an F, in terms of how they grade the area of concern. We are $42 billion behind the curve to begin with.

I find the argument, by the way, a little akin to the argument my friend from New Hampshire just made, a little akin to the false argument about whether, of $740 million allocated in the last round, there should be a 40-percent cut in money for New York and Washington to be sent to St. Louis and Omaha. The question isn't whether it should have been cut to be sent to Omaha, the money is needed in New York and Omaha and in St. Louis.

The debate should be, why are we only spending, in that allocation, $740 million? The single most primary and primitive function of Government is to protect its citizens, to physically protect them. In my view, it comes before civil rights, civil liberties. It comes before education. It comes before health care. If you are not safe in your home, safe in your street, safe in your Nation, the rest of it does not matter a whole lot.

So we get into a false debate. Take Amtrak, all the money in Amtrak, $740 million for capital expenditures. That $740 million for capital expenditures still leaves Amtrak about $4.5 billion behind on capital needs. What are we talking about? Rail maintenance, rail improvement, the catenary wire above it, the actual cars, the actual engines that have to be upgraded. We have forced Amtrak, by underfunding so badly for so long, to cannibalize its own system in order to be able to pay salaries to keep the trains operating. There is no money.

It is a little bit similar to my saying, in the education budget, there is a whole lot of money there in order to be able to provide for eliminating the additional cost of the loans to college students because the education budget has X number of dollars. That means you have to go cut something out of education that is already underfunded.

I find it to be a false argument.

The point about the basis of the threat, I know of no other area where there has been as many consistent, specific threat assessments made by the FBI, by the CIA, by our intelligence agencies than rail. I may be mistaken, but I am happy to stand corrected if I am wrong. The threat is there.

Lastly, TSA does not pay for the doors on the aircraft. We still spend billions and billions of direct dollars in taxpayers' money. Again, it sounds good but irrelevant.

The arguments are very well made and very irrelevant. We are still only spending about $150 million.

You say: Well, the States have this money. What have they chosen to do? Guess what. How much money have the States had to spend on airport security when they choose that? The Federal Government has come in and taken on the lion's share of that responsibility. I am confused. Why does Reagan Airport, which has fewer people visiting every day, have a higher priority than Union Station? I don't get that. I don't understand that.

The bottom line is, we do not have the commitment to deal with this. I acknowledge, as the chairman of the subcommittee, my friend gets an allocation. But, again, that is a false argument. It is true he gets an allocation. Why is the allocation not bigger? The allocation is not bigger because our priorities in this country are backward.

Let me give one example, and I realize it is just one. About a month ago, we had the six major oil companies before the Judiciary Committee. During that time, the chairman, Republican Chairman Senator Specter--and the issue was price gouging--swore all six CEOs in under oath. Everyone asked about price gouging.

It got my turn in the order of asking questions, and I said I would like to not ask about price gouging, I would like to ask you about tax breaks. You have an Energy bill last year that I voted against, that, at a minimum, there are $2.5 billion worth of tax breaks to encourage you to explore. I looked at the chairman of the board of ExxonMobil. I am paraphrasing, and I will later in the day come back with the actual record of that exchange and ask it be printed in the RECORD at that time. I said: You made $35 billion in profits. My mother would say: God love you, that is wonderful. I am not arguing about your profit. That is great. Do you need any of the $2.5 billion per year you are going to get? He put his head down, if you take a look at the film. I said: Sir, you are under oath. And he looked up and he said: No, we don't need it. I said: Good. And I went down the list of the other five oil executives. Do you need it? No, no, no, no, no.

Then I asked another question. I'm going to propose to eliminate that tax cut, and I am going to use it for homeland security. Do you object to that? Would you support it? I said: You are under oath. The CEO of ExxonMobil said: I would support it. They all supported it.

So $2.5 billion we are wasting--wasting--in giving energy breaks to oil companies.

I say to my colleagues, parenthetically, you do not hear me stand up here and demagog. I am happy they are making all that money. But they acknowledge they do not need it. For $2.5 billion, we could restore my entire COPS Program, which we have eliminated. We could add 1,000 more FBI agents to deal with homegrown terrorism. We could fund every penny of this.

I realize, as the joke goes, that is above my friend's pay grade. It is not his responsibility. But we get put in these positions where guys such as me vote against budget priorities that are set, allocations are limited, and, understandably, under the rule, we are then put in a position of points of order.

I respectfully suggest that if anyone said: What should be the priorities of this Nation and how much money should we be spending to protect the American people, my guess is a whole lot of things, including some social programs, would come after a basic fundamental requirement to protect the American people from what we are told is a reasonable probability that it will happen.

I accept everything my friend said in terms of the caps, et cetera. I acknowledge this, in fact, would be subject to a point of order. I find it frustrating I am consistently left in the position of having to argue. It is a little bit similar to what we used to do in local office. You cut the budget, and we would make the hearing impaired compete with the physically impaired, who compete with the blind, for the limited amount of money we gave them. We would say: We cannot use more money for the hearing impaired because within this allocation we do not have enough money. We will have to cut it from someone else or go find it somewhere else. That is how I feel.

I apologize for my frustration. The record will show, although when I speak in the Senate someone suggests I am mildly energized about what I speak about, I don't often rise in the Senate to speak.

Folks, we are going to regret this. We are going to regret this.

I yield the floor.


Back to top