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Public Transit Security and Local Law Enforcement Support Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Ms. JACKSON LEE of Texas. Let me thank Mr. Turner and the ranking member, Mr. Thompson, for their courtesies of yielding to me and allow me to take this moment on the floor on 9/11 to again acknowledge the Members of Congress who this morning joined each other, if you will, two Houses, that came together, on the east steps to be able to acknowledge those who were lost, and I would like to say those who still live in the backdrop of the tragedy, for many are still pained by the loss of their family members. As we know in New York the reading of the names, and, of course, the laying of the wreath that occurred today at the Pentagon.

We cannot get those lives back, and what we recognize is that those lives represented places around the world, but it also represented moms and dads. Children today have grown up without those loved ones because of the horrific and heinous tragedy, and some might say America's naiveté.

But I am glad to live in a country that believes in her freedom. I am glad to live in a country of which we claim democracy and understand it, understand the freedom of speech and freedom of access, freedom of association. I would not want to live anywhere else.

But we were pained on that day because they attempted to take our naiveté away from us, our innocence. But I am glad that we came together, both in terms of allowing people now still to travel from the east to the west, from the north to the south, to have summer vacations, to lay out in the open sun. This is our Nation.

I am grateful for having the privilege of serving on the Homeland Security Committee. I hold this flag just to indicate that this is a great Nation.

I'd like to thank our early persons who led this committee. Certainly, Mr. Chris Cox, Mr. Jim Turner, the Homeland Security Select Committee and members who were on that committee.

I want to acknowledge my outstanding ranking member, Mr. Thompson, who has been a great leader on these issues. He has been diligent; he has been patriotic; he has been loving of this country, along with the chairman, Mr. King, who has worked for the common good as we have tried to work together. It has not been a perfect unity because we have had disagreements. Many of us disagree on the interpretation of democracy and civil liberties, but we all believe in one Nation under God, but more importantly, the security of this Nation. Mr. Thompson, I want to thank you for allowing me to serve with you and for your leadership.

It is in that spirit that I rise today to speak to H.R. 3857, which amends the Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007.

I might just say, Mr. Turner, that there were those of us who were here--and you come from New York, and so I know that more than likely there were people in and around your area, the Queens area, who lost their lives, or family members. So we acknowledge the regions that were impacted, from Boston to New York to Pennsylvania. And certainly those families whose family members were on those airlines, we understand, but cannot feel, the deep pain that they have today.

The 9/11 Commission, of course, came about mainly through the many families that walked the halls. And let me, of course, acknowledge those families who even in their pain, again, came to the Halls of Congress and asked us to do something. So this particular legislation is amending the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007 to allow public transportation agencies to be eligible for grants for security improvements to be used for specialized patrol teams, including the sustainment of such teams without fiscal year limitation, as long as the agency applying for grant funds submits a sustainment plan for maintaining in future years the capability or capacity achieved with the funds. That is a good step. It allows local jurisdictions to expand their services as long as they're able to sustain it.

In January 2007, soon after Democrats took control of the House after being in the minority, I joined with my colleagues across both sides of the aisle and we passed the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007. This legislative landmark was critical in strengthening our Nation's homeland security efforts. Specifically, the 9/11 Act established the Transportation Security Grant Program, which provides a vital source of funding for our transportation systems across the United States.

Shortly thereafter, I remember a conference where the House and Senate came together, and I remember the opportunity to establish transportation security centers of excellence. I am grateful that we established one at Texas Southern University, among other Historically Black Colleges, where we looked at ways of improving transportation security.

Having just been briefed by Texas Southern University, I know that they are finishing their work, and I want to thank the team that led on that program. Those funds were truly used productively, efficiently, and effectively to provide new technology, new techniques and vetting procedures on how we can truly secure America.

Since the demise of Osama bin Laden--led by the outstanding military of the United States of America, guided, directed, of course, by the Commander in Chief, President Obama, and the excellent military leadership, the National Security Agency, that provided all of the guidance for this enormous task--it has been revealed in the public domain that terrorists continue to be interested in developing plots to sabotage mass transit systems, and of course the aviation system. This threat, however, is not new. Today, as I indicated, marks the 11th anniversary since the 9/11 attacks, and as such we must take every step to commemorate the men and women we lost on that day. We also have the responsibility to make sure that we do not allow another catastrophic loss of life like the one we faced that day.

In the course of the years since 9/11 we have seen incidents in London and Spain, we've seen incidents in Mumbai, tragic incidents on mass transit. We have also seen the individual efforts that have been made to bring down another airline over American soil, or certainly en route to the United States of America. Therefore, it is imperative that Congress examine how the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration are addressing the current and evolving threat to our transportation systems and continue to support programs that have yielded a positive security impact, such as TSA's Transportation Security Grant Program. I have seen in my own transit system the utilization of these funds. I've seen the utilization, as it has been very effective in canine units.

Let's come together around recognizing that the security of America is holistic--first, of course, the frontliners, meaning the United States military; then, of course, the men and women who overlap in jurisdiction under Homeland Security, the many different law enforcements that every day work on the border, work on internal enforcement, work at airports, coalesce and collaborate with the FBI and DEA and ATF, and others, around the question of security.

I am glad these programs are being expanded for security purposes, for efficiency purposes, for utilization of our tax dollars in the right way. That is why I am pleased to see that the majority and the ranking member, along with members of the Democratic part of the committee, at my request and submission of an amendment, accepted my amendment during committee consideration to authorize $400 million for the Transportation Security Grant Program for FY12 and FY13. This funding will ensure that transportation agencies have the resources needed to secure our public and mass transit system. I would argue that it complements what we're doing in aviation, which, together, maintains the nucleus, if you will, of transportation security.

So I'm hoping that this will move quickly through the United States Senate and find itself on the President's desk. It is crucial. I then hope that my colleagues can come together for us to put on the floor a Transportation Security Administration reauthorization. We've done it before; I know we can do it now. And I ask my colleagues to come together in the name not only of security, but of the families, the 9/11 Commission, who now bear the brunt of that tragic day, along with so many others.

Thank you to our first responders, and of course to the men and women who now serve around the world and those who have come home. I ask my colleagues to support H.R. 3857.

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H.R. 3857, ``Public Transit Security and Local Law Enforcement Support Act--Amends the Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007 to allow grants to eligible public transportation agencies for security improvements to be used for specialized patrol teams, including the sustainment of such teams without fiscal year limitation, as long as the agency applying for grant funds submits a sustainment plan for maintaining in future years the capability or capacity achieved with the funds.''

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