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Public Statements

Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2013

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. HOLT. Mr. Chairman, I thank the chair of this subcommittee and the ranking member for the work they've put into this.

I rise with an amendment that is designed to ensure that our rail and transit systems have the additional resources, or at least some of the additional resources, that they need to help thwart any potential terrorist attacks on buses and trains.

Now, just over a year ago, when our forces raided Osama bin Laden's compound, they discovered materials in his hideout indicating that he was planning attacks on rail and transit systems, and we have no reason to believe that al Qaeda's remnants have abandoned any such plans. As we've seen repeatedly, the threat is very real.

Since 2004, terrorist cells have conducted successful and deadly bombings on major passenger rail systems in Spain, the United Kingdom, India, Belarus, with over 600 people killed, thousands wounded. And despite this threat, over the last few years, our country has been backsliding in providing our rail and transit systems the resources they need.

In years past, rail and transit security funding had its own line item in the budget. But a couple of years ago, it was rolled into the overall State and local grant programs, and it's funding has been slashed, and slashed is not an overstatement, from a previous high of $300 million, down to only about $88 million this past year.

The large reduction was made in the face of an existing $6 billion in rail and transit security funding needs identified by rail and transit operators around the Nation, as reported by the American Public Transportation Association.

My amendment addresses part of this shortfall by moving a total of $50 million from three accounts--Overall Management and Administration, Intelligence and Analysis, and the Transportation Security Administration--to the State and Local Programs Grant Account for the express purpose of increasing funding available for rail and transit security grants. I propose these moves reluctantly, but we need the funding in the transit security. This would bring to $138 million the account for rail security, well above the $88 million currently there, but well below the $300 million that only a few years ago was the funding level.

This amendment actually saves the taxpayer $36 million because of the difference in the account spend-down rates. It's a responsible amendment, I believe, that addresses a crucial vulnerability in our rail and transit security posture, and I ask support for this amendment.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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