Washington, DC – As new details emerge from a trove of evidence recovered at Osama bin Laden’s Pakistan compound, reports indicate that Al Qaeda had eyed attacking trains in the United States. U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today continued her long standing efforts to secure additional anti-terror funding to protect New York. In a letter to Homeland Security Committee leaders, Gillibrand is urging them to include $300 for the Transportation Security Grant Program in the FY’12 budget, including a minimum of $20 million for the Intercity Passenger Rail Security Program and $15 million for the Freight Rail Security Program as they develop this year’s Homeland Security Appropriations bill. Gillibrand helped lead the fight to restore cuts in the FY’11 budget originally proposed by House Republicans.
In her letter to Senate Homeland Security Committee leaders, Senator Gillibrand wrote, “We must remain vigilant and ensure law enforcement officials and our rail carriers have the resources needed to keep us safe. We must be conscious of the budget challenges we face as a nation, but protecting the passengers, travelers and commuters using our transportation infrastructure is a responsibility we cannot afford to cut.”
At Senator Gillibrand’s urging, the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Homeland Security approved $350 million for transit security and $350 million for port security in the FY2011 Homeland Security Appropriations bill, an increase from the $300 million allocated to each program the previous fiscal year. The subcommittee also approved $20 million to maintain funding for the Securing the Cities program, funding that was facing elimination, that provides resources to protect the New York metropolitan area against the threat of a radiological or nuclear attack. The final FY’11 budget deal included $250 million for transportation security, which restored $150 million in cuts by House Republicans originally proposed in the House passed continuing resolution.
Click here to view Senator Gillibrand’s letter to Appropriations Committee calling for this funding in last year’s budget.
Full text of Senator Gillibrand’s letter to Appropriations Committee leaders:
May 6, 2011
Dear Chairman Inouye, Vice-Chairman Cochran, Chairwoman Landrieu and Ranking Member Coats,
In light of recent evidence contained in captured material from Osama bin Laden’s compound, I write to strongly urge you to include at least $300 million for the Transportation Security Grant program, including a minimum of $20 million for the Intercity Passenger Rail Security Program and $15 million for the Freight Rail Security Program as you develop this year’s Homeland Security Appropriations bill. While we have not had the time to fully determine whether this material indicates a specific threat or target, it unequivocally demonstrates al-Qaeda’s deep and abiding interest in attacking US rail and transit systems. With remaining members of al-Qaeda and its allied groups surely looking to avenge bin Laden’s death, we cannot afford to provide inadequate resources to protect our critical transportation infrastructure.
These levels do not constitute a dramatic increase in funding for these programs – in fact, they would merely restore FY2010 funding levels, and would still be less than the $400 million provided for FY2009. However, they would reverse unfortunate cuts agreed to in the final FY2011 spending bill and ensure that the federal government is providing essential resources to continue to improve our security measures on the trains, subways, bridges, and tunnels which al-Qaeda has repeatedly targeted in the US and globally. Funding for these programs provides our local communities essential resources to train law enforcement officers to recognize and identify terrorist threats, field explosives detection and response teams, and harden and protect key points like bridges, stations, and other likely targets.
We must remain vigilant and ensure law enforcement officials and our rail carriers have the resources needed to keep us safe. We must all be conscious of the budget challenges we face as a nation, but protecting the passengers, travelers and commuters using our transportation infrastructure is a responsibility we cannot afford to cut. I look forward to working with you to provide these critical resources as we move forward on the FY2012 appropriations process.
Kirsten E. Gillibrand