Washington, DC – The leaders of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee are calling for increased funding for mass transit security. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) are pressing the leaders of the Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee to dedicate additional funds for transportation security programs, as they negotiate the Homeland Security Appropriations bill.
“The recent attacks in London again demonstrate that transit systems are attractive targets, and it is crucial that steps be taken to mitigate the potential of another terrorist attack from occurring in the United States,” said the Senators in a joint letter to Senators Judd Gregg (R-NH) and Robert Byrd (D-WV). “Fourteen million people rely on mass transit systems in our country every day. We must provide assistance to system owners and operators to continue rapid deployment of security enhancements.” The House has included $150 million in its Fiscal Year 2006 Homeland Security Appropriations bill for intercity passenger rail and transit security grants. The Senate version of the bill provided $100 million. Senators Collins and Lieberman urge appropriators to direct “at least” $150 million toward mass transit security grants. Congress allocated $150 million for this purpose last year. The Senators also stressed that an increase in mass transit security funding should “not short change assistance to first responders in order to do so.” Chairman Collins and Ranking Member Lieberman announced last week that the Committee has begun an examination of the vulnerabilities of America’s mass transit systems, steps that are being and should be taken to ensure that these systems are as secure as possible, including the development and deployment of high tech solutions, what the federal government’s role should be in this effort, and what we can learn from terrorist incidents abroad. The Senators plan to hold a hearing on this topic sometime after the August recess.