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Rep. Jackson Lee calls for greater TSA emphasis on rail, mass transit and canines

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee
(D-Texas)

Frustrated that the U.S. Senate has not yet acted on its version of a TSA authorization bill for fiscal year 2010, and that the Senate has not yet approved the pending nomination of Errol Southers as the new TSA Administrator, the House came very close yesterday to approving a resolution endorsing further emphasis by TSA on mass transit and rail security.

House Resolution 28, which was introduced by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), was brought to the House floor on December 2, openly supported by Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, and was approved by a vote of 417-3.

'As we stand on the floor today and watch the actions in Afghanistan and Pakistan, as we see the world changing from Mumbai to Madrid, we recognize the crucialness of national security and homeland security,' Rep. Jackson Lee told her colleagues, as she stood on the House floor. 'And so this legislation is to emphasize the importance of expanding our oversight and response to the idea of mass transit and rail transportation.'

The measure was endorsed by Rep. Michael Rogers (D-AL), who noted that two years after the 9/11 Commission completed its work, some of the TSA-related mandates have still not been fulfilled.

'This resolution resolves that TSA should continue to enhance the security of mass transit and rail transportation systems, continue the development of the canine explosive detection program, and enhance on-line training programs,' said Rep. Rogers. 'The resolution also takes note that more attention is needed for school transportation systems.'

Rep. Thompson, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, saw terrorist threats around the globe.

'For a second consecutive year, while Americans gathered with family and friends to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, terrorists executed deadly attacks on innocent people that were in transit, on foreign rail systems,' said Thompson. 'Just last week, two separate bombings in Russia underscored that passenger rail systems remain enticing targets for acts of terrorism.'