DNC: Republican Homeland Insecurity Continues...
Washington, DC - After ignoring port security for the last five years, today President Bush will sign the SAFE Port Act. Five years after 9/11, the Bush Administration and Republican leaders in Congress still have much more work to do when it comes to keeping our country safe. The GOP has not only neglected port security, but they've also ignored the security of our airlines, our nuclear and chemical plants, our railroads, critical infrastructure and under-funded important first responder training.
"Waiting five years to finally do something to protect our nation's ports is just one more outrageous example of President Bush's failed leadership," said Democratic National Committee Press Secretary Stacie Paxton. "Since 9/11, President Bush and his Republican allies in Congress have consistently blocked measures to fund needed programs to protect not only our ports, but also our railroads, airports, chemical and nuclear plants and other critical infrastructure. Republicans have even cut funds for first responders. Democrats are offering a new direction for America that includes a commitment to put our nation's security first."
Port Security: Despite Today's Bill Signing, Republicans Continue To Block Democratic Efforts To Electronically Scan All Cargo. "Democrats have pushed for the electronic scanning of all cargo destined for the United States, which Republicans reject as extravagant and impractical. But the port of Hong Kong has already implemented a system that puts every container through scanners that can detect radiation and material used to shield radiation. The estimated cost is just $7 per container. Even if the bill were much higher, the question is not whether we should insist on 100 percent scanning but how soon we can reach that goal. The cost to keep terrorists from hiding bombs in foreign cargo headed here? Billions or tens of billions of dollars. Not seeing an American city go up in a mushroom cloud? Priceless." [Chicago Tribune, Steve Chapman, 10/12/06]
Airline Security: 9/11 Commission Gave Bush Administration An "F" On The Failure To Improve Airline Passenger Pre-screening. Few improvements have been made to the existing passenger screening system since right after 9/11. The completion of the testing phase of TSA's pre-screening program for airline passengers has been delayed. A new system, utilizing all names on the consolidated terrorist watch list, is therefore not yet in operation. [Final Report on 9/11 Commission Recommendations, 12/5/05]
First Responders: Bush's 2007 Budget Cuts Funding For First Responders By 25 Percent. Police departments nationwide do not have the protective gear to safely secure a site after the detonation of a weapon of mass destruction and fire departments have only enough radios for half the firefighters on a shift. And yet the budget includes a net cut in first responder funding within the Department of Homeland Security of $573 million, or 25 percent. Within this total, the budget slashes the Firefighter Grant program by $355 million and eliminates all funding for law enforcement terrorism prevention, a reduction of $385 million. These cuts are partially offset by an $87 million increase for first responder formula-based grants and an $80 million increase for specific high-threat urban areas. [Office of the House Democratic Leader, 3/1/06]
Critical Infrastructure: President Bush's FY2007 Budget Has No Money To Secure Critical Infrasctructure. "The President's fiscal year 2007 budget increases funding to complete the NIPP and critical infrastructure identification, but it does not provide any increases in funds for securing this infrastructure. In fact, the President proposed consolidating all critical infrastructure protection grants into one pool - known as the Targeted Infrastructure Protection Program - which will require ports, chemical plans, and other critical infrastructure to compete against each other for scarce resources." [Democratic Staff of the Committee on Homeland Security, Annual Report Card, 2/06]
Rail Security: President Bush's FY2007 Budget Cuts Security Grants. President Bush's FY2007 budget "eliminates rail and transit security grants and intercity bus grants, which were funded at $144 million and $9.6 million, respectively, in FY 2006." [Democratic Staff of the Committee on Homeland Security, Annual Report Card, 2/06]
Chemical Plant Security: Many Chemical Plants Have Not Updated Security Since 9/11. Some chemical plant facilities are voluntarily pursuing security enhancements, "yet others have simply not increased their security precautions enough to stop a terrorist attack." The Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that "about 1,100 facilities participate in a voluntary industry effort in which they assess vulnerabilities, develop security plans, and undergo a third party verification" that they are taking necessary security precautions. However, the GAO also noted that they did not know how many other facilities had taken such steps and that there was no way to verify if they had, even if they claimed to have done so. [Democratic Staff of the Committee on Homeland Security, Annual Report Card, 2/06]
* GAO: Only 7 Percent of Chemical Plants Follow Voluntary Security Rules. According to the GAO, "only a small fraction of plants, 7%, are following industry suggested (not imposed) Guidelines." [Democratic Staff of the Committee on Homeland Security, Annual Report Card, 2/06]
Nuclear Plant Security: Republicans Voted Against $200 Million for Nuclear Security. In 2003, Republicans voted against an additional $3 billion for homeland security. This additional money included $750 million for border security; $200 million for security at nuclear facilities; $850 million for smallpox vaccinations for first responders; $200 million to improve communications between first responder agencies; $1.1 billion for aviation security and $100 million for the Federal Emergency Management Administration. [HJR 2, 1/16/03, Vote #3, Failed 45-51 D 44-1 R 0-50 I 1-0]