Rail And Public Transportation Security Act of 2007
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Mr. PASCRELL. Mr. Chairman, I rise in strong support of the Rail and Public Transportation Security Act of 2007. This is critical legislation designed to focus on a long-time vulnerability that exists within our Nation.
This bill is a real product of bipartisan cooperation. So I want to commend our leader, Chairman Bennie Thompson, as well as Ranking Member Peter King, both of whom I enjoyed working with and continue to work with, even though I am not officially on the committee. You have performed a tremendous service to this country, and we are indebted to you. Your sagacity is seconded by no one.
We know that rail and public transportation represent a very tempting target for those who wish to do us harm. London and Madrid are just two recent examples of the mass transit systems that are plagued by terrorism. Last year, in fact, the committee went to Madrid, to Rome, and to London, and we saw the evil deeds of terrorists, and we learned much, and they learned much from us. Thankfully, H.R. 1401 will make needed and long-overdue investments in America's public transportation to ensure that we are safer and more secure.
The bill provides for comprehensive, mandatory training for front-line workers. That is so critical for us to understand. These are folks that are on the job every day. Transit employees must know how to identify risks and respond in case of a threat or attack.
And you know, Mr. Chairman, I felt very strongly about this, discussed it with both of you, that we need to get more retired law enforcement into these positions of security. They know how to detect the threats that are on the line.
The bill also enhances whistleblower protections so that workers can be free to report security concerns. This is critical, Mr. Chairman. This has been so critical in exposing the security gaps at airports throughout the United States of America. If people are not free to tell us what they see day to day and are fearful that there will be reaction against them, that is not good.
Most importantly, this bill provides $7.3 billion to public transit agencies, Amtrak, bus operators, and other providers of rail and public transportation. We want people to feel as safe on the trains as they are in the air.
We know full well that rail and mass transit have been negligently underfunded in terms of security since 9/11, and it is long past time that we do this. Today we do that. I applaud the chairman and I applaud the entire committee for their hard work.