Carper, Other Democrats Urge Homeland Security Dept. to Release Rail Security Funds
In the wake of yesterday's terrorist attacks in London, Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., and eight of his Democratic colleagues today urged the Homeland Security Department to expedite the release of rail security grants to states and municipalities across the country.
In a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, the Democratic senators noted that many of the homeland security grants appropriated by Congress in fiscal year 2005 have not been distributed, hampering city and state efforts to upgrade and improve port, transit and rail security. According to the letter, given the potential for attack, "and with over 9 billion trips taken on public transportation each year, our citizens deserve existing and additional security resources to be distributed immediately."
In addition, the letter urges Congress and the Bush administration to do more to meet rail and transit security needs. It is estimated that there is more than $7 billion in security needs for our nation's rail and transit systems yet only $300 million have been allocated since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. "We cannot continue to merely hope that attacks such as those we witnessed in Spain and now London do not occur in our cities across the United States," the letter states. "We must act to ensure that our transportation systems have the resources they need immediately."
A full text of the letter follows:
July 8, 2005
The Honorable Michael Chertoff
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Dear Secretary Chertoff:
We write to you in the immediate wake of Thursday's terrorist attacks in London. Initial reports indicate that dozens have been killed and hundreds more injured. We support the efforts of officials charged with responding to these attacks. These acts of terrorism only strengthen our resolve to ensure that the freedom our society enjoys shall endure.
The attacks on the trains and buses in London remind us of the gruesome cowardly attacks against which we must defend ourselves. These recent attacks also remind us of the horrific acts of terrorism that Madrid suffered in March, 2004, when nearly 200 people were killed and over one thousand were injured as a result of explosives planted on trains during their morning rush hour. The similarities of these attacks are an indication that terrorist groups continue to exploit vulnerabilities that exist in our public transportation systems. We simply cannot continue to ignore these weaknesses.
As you know, the Department of Homeland Security is charged with preventing terrorist attacks within the United States and reducing our vulnerabilities to such attacks. It is essential that the President and Congress allocate sufficient resources to this mission. In light of these recent attacks, we believe that more funding is needed specifically for rail and transit security resources than is provided for in the President's FY 2006 Budget to be sure we are doing all we can to prevent against future terrorist attacks in this country. Additionally, we urge you to ensure that funds already appropriated be made available without further delay.
It is estimated that there is over $7 billion in security needs for our nation's rail and transit systems and yet there has only been approximately $300 million allocated for such public transportation security needs since the September 11, 2001, attacks. We cannot continue to merely hope that attacks as those we witnessed in Spain and now London do not occur in our cities across the United States. We must act to ensure that our transportation systems have the resources they need immediately.
According to the Senate Homeland Security Subcommittee on Appropriations, much of the homeland security grants that were appropriated by Congress in the fiscal year 2005 Homeland Security Appropriations bill have not been distributed for upgrading and improving port security, improving intercity bus security, hiring additional firefighters, and improving transit security. Further, funds for the Buffer Protection Plans were not released until just recently. We ask that you instruct the Department of Homeland Security to expedite dissemination of homeland security funding that will help secure our rail and transit systems. In the face of these imminent threats, and with over 9 billion trips taken on public transportation each year, our citizens deserve existing and additional security resources to be distributed immediately.
Hillary Rodham Clinton, Jack Reed, Joe Lieberman, Tom Carper, Charles Schumer, Frank Lautenberg, Jon Corzine, Ted Kennedy, Barbara Boxer