WASHINGTON, D.C. – During a hearing of the Surface Transportation Subcommittee today, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), Ranking Member on the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, called on the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to ensure that the security of our nation’s rail, bus and highway networks be a top agency priority.
“The security of the nation’s surface transportation systems, although long overshadowed by aviation security, must be one of our nation’s highest priorities,” said Senator Hutchison. “It has been more than eight years since the terrorist attacks of September 11th, and during that time there have been more than 700 attacks on rail and bus systems around the world, killing and injuring thousands of people. Fortunately, there has not been a successful attack in the United States like the recent bombing on the Moscow subway system. But the recent plot to detonate explosives on the New York City subway demonstrates the seriousness of the threats to our surface transportation systems.”
Senator Hutchison noted that the fiscal year 2010 budget for the nation’s surface transportation security is just $110 million, which represents just over two percent of TSA’s total budget. She said that this level of funding is not equal to the level of risk facing the country. Recent reports by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Inspector General concluded that TSA has still not completed an overall risk assessment of mass transit, the passenger rail system, or the commercial vehicle sector. The White House also conducted its own independent assessment of surface transportation security released on April 2, 2010. That assessment was conducted by reaching out to government and private sector stakeholders and found that there are significant overlaps in federal programs and agencies. The assessment also noted a need for more coordination between government agencies and the private sector.
“It is critical that TSA, as the lead agency on these issues, steps up to the plate and exercises more leadership when it comes to surface transportation security,” Senator Hutchison said. “An important step is the appointment of a TSA Administrator, a position that has been vacant for more than a year. I hope the Administration will be sending up a new nominee -- and one who we can confirm -- as soon as possible.”
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You can watch Senator Hutchison’s statement here.