Since 9/11, our nation has taken a monumental effort to protect our homeland from future terrorist attacks. Protecting Americans from terrorist attacks is one of the most important duties of our government. However, there are several critical areas in which I believe much work still remains to be done. For example:
* There are almost 2,000 fewer border inspectors and agents than were called for in the 2001 PATRIOT Act.
* Funding for first responder programs, our front line defense against terrorists at home, has dropped 27 percent in the past three years, from a high of $3.3 billion in 2003 to $2.4 billion in 2006 -- funds which help our towns and cities hire, train and equip our police, firefighters and medical responders.
* While 32 million Americans use public transportation every day, we have spent only $250 million on transit since 9/11, compared to the $18.2 billion we've spent on aviation.
* Only five percent of incoming cargo containers are inspected for hazardous materials. Ninety-five percent of American trade comes through our 361 seaports every year, yet there is no dedicated funding steam for port security.
* Most of the cargo loaded onto passenger airplanes still goes unchecked for hazardous materials -- even as passengers must empty their pockets, remove their shoes and have their baggage inspected to board a plane.