In Wake Of London Bombings Schumer Asks Administration, Congress Must Reconsider Defeat Of Mass Transit Homeland Security Funding
Due to Funding Mandates MTA Cannot Spend Federal Money Where Needed Most: Police Overtime, Bomb-Sniffing Dogs, Structural HardeningSchumer Demands Not Only Additional Funds but also Reprogramming of Money to go Where Most Needed
Subway stations, bus lines and commuter rail lines are still vulnerable to terrorist attack and need federal support to bolster security efforts, Senator Charles E. Schumer warned today. Just last week after the first attack on London, the Senate inexplicably rejected a 1.16 billion dollar increase in mass transit security funding. In addition, the MTA is unable to spend its federal money where it is needed most. Though the MTA is desperately in need of more bombsniffing dogs, overtime for police, concrete reinforcement of structures like tunnels and bridges, bollards and better lighting, the money they receive from the federal government can only be used for new technology and evacuation drills.
It is unbelievable to me that Federal Homeland Security money cant be put toward our most critical needs and instead can only be used on detection devices and drills. The MTA has made it clear that they need more people and better infrastructure, the fact that money that we secured for exactly these purposes remains unspent is a mystery, Schumer said. The soft underbelly of buses and subways and railroads are fully exposed to similar terrorist attacks unless we take real steps to beef up mass transit security immediately, redirecting this money will certainly help. The security professionals who deal with these issues everyday need to have the flexibility and power to spend the money in ways that will keep us safe.
To combat the heightened threat and to secure mass transit, Schumer also called for the Senate to reconsider the increase in mass transit funding.
For every seven dollars we spend on every airline passenger we spend just over a penny for every mass transit or rail passenger, Schumer said. Then, Congress, last week, in a move that is hard to explain, refused to increase homeland security transit funding by more than $100 million. We need to do better, for the protection of New York and America.
Last week, Schumer, with a bipartisan coalition of Senators, offered an amendment to the Homeland Security Appropriations bill would have given $1.16 billion for mass transit security. The amendment was not endorsed by the administration and then obtained majority support in the Senate but was still rejected by a vote of 5345, which fell short of the 60 votes needed to waive the budget cap. The House passed Homeland Security appropriations bill included $50 million more mass transit security than the Senate passed $100 million.
Schumer has repeatedly urged the Administration to augment rail and mass transit security. Schumer called for the federal government to accelerate the development of detectors for rail and subway stations. Currently, individual transportation systems in major U.S. cities are developing their own detection devices, but Schumer said today that a coordinated effort funded by the federal government is needed to overcome the many technological barriers that face scientists and engineers working on such systems.
Schumer is a lead sponsor of the Transportation Security Improvements Act of 2005 (S.1052, 109th) which would spend over $750 million over three years for rail/bus security, along with billions more dollars to beef up security for all modes of transportation across the county.
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