Tom Carper, U.S. Senator for Delaware

Jan 22 2003

Ridge Confirmed as First Director of Homeland Security

Carper Urges New Cabinet Secretary to Make Rail Security a Priority RADIO ACTUALITY OF CARPER'S SPEECH FROM THE FLOOR OF THE U.S. SENATE AVAILABLE- Call 800-511-0763, Box # 4641

Washington, DC -Tom Ridge was confirmed as the first Director of Homeland Security today by a unanimous vote in the United State Senate. In a speech late last night from the floor of the Senate, Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) urged the future Secretary to make passenger rail security a priority for the new Department of Homeland Security. Carper, who served with Ridge in the House and was his mentor in the National Governors Association, pledged support for his friend's nomination, but demanded greater consideration from the administration for rail passengers' safety. "In New York, hundreds of thousands of people on their way to work today passed through tunnels that are badly lit, poorly ventilated and from which is escape is very difficult. There's a tunnel that goes under the Supreme Court and congressional office buildings that thousands of people pass through each day. Passenger safety demands a real investment. To ask Amtrak to do more with respect to security without providing more resources is an unfunded mandate - not a solution," Carper said. The FBI has issued warnings that al-Qaeda is considering directly targeting U.S. passenger trains and that operatives may try to destroy key rail bridges and sections of track to cause derailments. Although such attacks could result in hundreds of casualties and shut down the entire passenger rail network, the Administration has made few commitments to making investments in passenger rail safety. The following are excerpts from Carper's floor speech: "Now that the Transportation Security Administration has, for the most part, achieved the goals we set for them, it is time for them and the Department of Homeland Security to focus on other modes that have received less attention, especially rail. "As I've said before, our failure more than a year after September 11th to act to improve the security of our rail infrastructure is an Achilles heel in our nation's efforts to secure our transportation system. "In New York, hundreds of thousands of people on their way to work today passed through tunnels that are badly lit, poorly ventilated and from which is escape is very difficult. There's a tunnel that goes under the Supreme Court and congressional office buildings that thousands of people pass through each day. "The FBI has issued warnings that al-Qaeda is considering directly targeting U.S. passenger trains and that operatives may try to destroy key rail bridges and sections of track to cause derailments. "Passenger safety demands a real investment but to ask Amtrak to do more with respect to security without providing more resources is an un-funded mandate - not a solution. That's why I successfully offered an amendment in committee not included in the final bill that authorized $1.2 billion for Amtrak to make security upgrades. "I would like to thank Governor Ridge for understanding the importance of improving rail security and the new department's role in it. "I would also like to thank Governor Ridge for acknowledging that Amtrak is likely to need additional financial assistance if it is expected to make security enhancements." "Our failure to act to improve security of our rail travel is an Achilles heel in our nation's efforts to secure our transportation system," Carper said. "We have focused a significant amount of attention on preventing future airline hijackings but have failed to act to protect our nation's passenger rail service. We must ensure that the passengers aboard our trains are as safe as the ones in the skies over America."
###
Show Hide

Was this page useful?

Click here to email my office
---Or---
Call my office - (202) 224-2441