Hoyer Statement in Support of Rail Security Act

Says Legislation Improves Safety in an Area Often Overlooked

For Immediate Release:

March 27, 2007

Contact:Stacey Farnen Bernards
202-225-3130

WASHINGTON, DC - House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) released the following statement in support of the Rail and Public Transportation Security Act, which will improve the security of railroads, public transportation, and over-the-road buses in the United States:

"I am proud to support H.R. 1401, the "Rail and Public Transportation Security Act of 2007."

"In the years since the horrific September 11 attacks, we've been offered ample evidence that terrorists remain committed to murdering innocent people throughout the world.  The attacks on the London Underground in the summer of 2005 killed 52 commuters and wounded 700 others.  The coordinated attacks in Bali in 2005 killed 23 people and wounded 129.  And the Madrid train bombings of 2004 took the lives of 191 mothers, fathers, sons and daughters and wounded more than 2,000 others.  As we marked the third anniversary of the Madrid attacks on March 11, we were reminded that terrorists will stop at nothing to inflict mass causalities.

"And while we have taken some extraordinary steps in securing our homeland over the last six years, today's important legislation takes key steps towards improving safety in an area that has frequently been overlooked -- America's rail and mass transportation systems.

"H.R. 1401 requires the Department of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Department of Transportation, to develop a comprehensive national rail and public transportation security plan and to assess potential vulnerabilities.  Furthermore, the Secretary of Homeland Security will be required to create a risk-based tier system for the covered transportation systems.

"By authorizing much-needed grant funding for rail, mass transit and bus security, this legislation will help ensure that our transportation systems will have the resources they need to keep Americans safe.

"This bill establishes a needed security training program for rail and public transportation employees, which will guarantee that the personnel charged with getting the American people safely to their destinations will be able to anticipate any potential threats and respond appropriately if an incident does occur.

"And finally, by offering important whistleblower protections for transportation workers and federal officials working on security issues, we can be sure that individuals will be free to speak out about problems or weaknesses without having to fear losing their jobs.  

"Rail and public transportation play an essential role in our communities.  In 2006 alone, Americans took more than 10 billion trips using public transportation.  It is vital that we all do everything that we can to ensure that our nation's rail and transit systems remain safe, efficient and effective.  H.R. 1401 takes an important step in achieving this objective and I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support it."

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