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Public Statements

Issue Position: Homeland Security

Issue Position

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Greater Funding for Chicago

Senator Obama has voted in favor of distributing federal homeland security funds to states and cities most likely to be targeted by a terrorist attack. In 2006, Chicago obtained a $52.5 million grant for training and equipping emergency first responders, up 16% from the previous year's $45 million grant.

As a member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, the Senator will work to improve the risk-based allocation of the nation's scarce homeland security dollars.

Chemical Plant Security

Illinois has at least 10 facilities from which a large-scale chemical release could threaten more than a million people, and an additional 20 facilities from which such a release could threaten more than 100,000 people. Despite this, there are currently no real federal standards to require chemical plants to protect against terrorist attacks. While a number of plants have taken important voluntary steps to improve security, and the Department of Homeland Security has finally issued some regulations, there are still major gaps, and there has never been a comprehensive security assessment of chemical plants across the country.

In the 109th Congress, Senator Obama, working with Senator Lautenberg, introduced tough legislation to drastically improve security at our nation's chemical plants. The Chemical Security and Safety Act would establish a clear set of federal regulations that all plants must follow. Plants that are considered a high risk to large population areas or critical infrastructure would face more stringent standards. The bill would require chemical facilities to take steps to enhance security, including improving barriers, containment, mitigation, and safety training, and, where possible, using safer technology, such as less toxic chemicals or safer procedures.

Senator Obama will work in the new Congress to ensure that chemical security regulations are robust and address the real threats facing America's communities.

Transit Security

Senator Obama is deeply concerned about the safety of the millions of Americans who use our nation's public transportation systems everyday. Unfortunately, non-aviation security has been under-funded since the September 11, 2001, terror attacks, and our subways and buses remain vulnerable. Only days after the July 2005 bombings in London, England, Senator Obama cosponsored and voted for an amendment that would have increased rail and transit security by $1.2 billion. Although that amendment was defeated, Senator Obama remains committed to improving rail and transit security and will work in the 110th Congress to address the outstanding vulnerabilities in our rail and transit systems.

Disaster Response

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, improving our nation's emergency planning and response capacity has become a priority for Senator Obama. He introduced legislation to ensure that the mistakes witnessed before and after Katrina are not repeated in the future. Language based on Senator Obama's bill creating a National Family Locator System was included in the Fiscal Year 2007 Homeland Security Appropriations Bill.

Terrorism Risk Insurance

Senator Obama cosponsored the extension of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act. The Act provides important protections to real estate in potentially vulnerable cities such as Chicago.

Nuclear Waste

Within the past five years, three nuclear power plants have reported missing spent fuel. Senator Obama introduced the Spent Nuclear Fuel Tracking and Accountability Act in 2005, which would establish specific and uniform guidelines for tracking, controlling, and accounting for individual spent fuel rods or segments at nuclear power plants, including procedures for conducting physical inventories. These provisions were included in the Nuclear Security Act of 2005, which passed the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee in June of 2005.

Drinking Water Security

Senator Obama drafted an amendment to provide $37.5 million over the next five years to protect the country's drinking water from a terrorist attack. The amendment also instructs the Environmental Protection Agency and the Centers for Disease Control to develop the tools needed by drinking water systems to detect and respond to the introduction of biological, chemical, and radiological contaminants by terrorists. His amendment was included in the Safe Drinking Water Act, which passed the EPW Committee in July of 2005.


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