August 15, 2006
President George W. Bush
The White House
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
Like all Americans, I am grateful for the work of the British intelligence service, combined with the swift response by authorities across the globe, to prevent what could have been a major terrorist attack last week. Unfortunately, in the more than two years since the bipartisan 9/11 Commission released its report, the Administration has failed to implement many of its most important recommendations and still seems to suffer from the "failure of imagination" that the 9/11 Commission identified. As a result, there are too many glaring gaps in our security efforts here at home.
From improving security for our rail and transit systems and our chemical plants, to increasing cargo screening in our airports and ports, the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission have been underfunded, or worse, ignored. Indeed, the 9/11 Commission gave the Administration dismal marks - 5 F's and 12 D's - on the implementation of the Commission's recommendations for homeland security.
Over the past year and a half, I have joined my Democratic colleagues in the Senate on numerous occasions to fight for funding to ensure that Americans are protected from the next generation of terrorist attacks. However, our efforts have been consistently thwarted by the party controlling the White House and Congress:
* In July 2005, just a week after the London subway bombings, Sen. Byrd proposed adding $1.2 billion for transit security grants and $265 million for rail security to the FY 2006 Homeland Security appropriations bill. Sen. Schumer also offered amendments to improve the screening of air cargo and to track the shipment of hazardous materials. All three amendments were rejected by Senate Republicans.
* In March 2006, during the consideration of the FY 2007 Budget Resolution, Sen. Lieberman offered a comprehensive amendment to increase homeland security spending that included $1 billion for rail and transit security, $752 million for aviation security, and $150 million for chemical security. This amendment was rejected by Senate Republicans. Sen. Menendez also offered an amendment to increase funding for port security by $965 million. This, too, was rejected by Senate Republicans.
* And just last month, during the consideration of the FY 2007 Homeland Security appropriations bill, Sen. Schumer and Sen. Biden offered amendments to increase funding for rail and transit security, but these amendments were also rejected by Senate Republicans.
In short, Congress' failure to adequately fund homeland security has left our nation vulnerable to attacks.
The Administration also has submitted budgets that have called for decimating programs for first responders. This year, the Administration's budget proposed eliminating the Law Enforcement Terrorism Prevention Program and cutting funds for Emergency Management Performance Grants, both critical sources of homeland funds for our communities.
I am also disappointed that the Administration has not taken a lead in pushing for balanced and robust chemical plant security legislation, as Sen. Lautenberg and I have proposed. Five years after September 11, our nation's unguarded chemical plants remain tempting targets for terrorists.
In the days after 9/11, the nation was prepared to join together to shore up our defenses and fight the very real terrorist threat we are facing. Unfortunately, that strong sense of national purpose has been tossed aside in favor of partisanship and political brinkmanship. As a result, we are woefully unprepared today on a number of fronts, including rail, port, chemical plant, and cargo security.
Now more than ever, we need to come together to address the real security needs of the nation. I hope the White House and Congress can work to immediately address the 9/11 Commission recommendations and provide adequate funding to guard against terrorist attacks.
United States Senator