Congressman Lynch, Colleagues Denounce Homeland Security Chief's Failure To Establish Security Training Guidelines For Transit Workers By Deadline

Nov 14, 2007
Congressman Stephen F. Lynch (D-MA) today joined 28 of his colleagues in criticizing Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff for his failure to abide by the transit worker security training directives set forth by Congress in the Implementing the 9/11 Commission Recommendations Act of 2007.  The 9/11 Commission legislation, which was approved by the House and Senate and signed into law by President Bush on August 3, 2007, required the Department of Homeland Security to “develop and issue detailed interim final regulations” for security training for mass transportation workers by November 1, 2007.

Secretary Chertoff failed to meet the congressionally-mandated deadline, and Congressman Lynch and his colleagues are urging him to explain why by November 21, 2007.

Congressman Lynch said, "In a recent survey of passenger rail workers, we have discovered that almost none of them have received comprehensive instruction and/or training in executing an evacuation and emergency plan in the event of a terrorist attack. Simply put, if our railworkers who ride and maintain the railways each day don't know the plan, then we have no plan."

Congressman Lynch serves on the Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs and has been a leader in Congressional efforts to strengthen transit security.  In March, he successfully won passage of an amendment to The Rail & Public Transportation Security Act (H.R. 1401) that would order the Department of Homeland Security to conduct a thorough assessment of the progress that rail and mass transit transportation providers make in providing basic security training to their front-line workers.  In 2006, another amendment by Congressman Lynch directed an additional $25 million to transit security efforts.

 

The text of Congressman Lynch’s letter to Secretary Chertoff, which has the support of the Amalgamated Transit Union, the Transportation Trades Department of the AFL-CIO and the Transport Workers Union, is below:

 

 

 

November 14, 2007

The Honorable Michael Chertoff

Secretary

U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Washington, D.C. 20528

Dear Secretary Chertoff:

We are writing to express our serious concern regarding the Department of Homeland Security’s failure to abide by the public transportation security training directives set forth by Congress in the Implementing the 9/11 Commission Recommendations Act of 2007 (P.L. 110-53). 

As you know, Section 1408, Subsection (a), of P.L. 110-53 requires the Department to “develop and issue detailed interim final regulations” for a public transportation security program so that public transportation agencies may provide their workers, including our frontline mass transit workers, with basic and long overdue security training.  Pursuant to the bill, the Department should have issued its interim security training guidelines no later than November 1, 2007, ninety days after the bill’s August 3, 2007 date of enactment.  Regrettably, the Department has failed to meet this congressionally-mandated deadline. 

Additionally, Section 1408, Subsection (b), of P.L. 110-53 requires that in developing the interim, as well as final, security training regulations, the Department shall consult with public transportation labor representatives.  Congress included this consultation provision in the bill in order to ensure that the resulting regulations incorporate public transportation employees’ expertise as to the specific training areas that must be included in their security training programs.  To our knowledge, however, the Department has failed to consult with public transportation labor representatives, including the nation’s largest labor organization representing transit workers, during its development of the regulations. 

As evidenced by the March 2004 coordinated bombings of the commuter train system in Madrid, the July 2005 coordinated bombings of the transit system in London, and most recently, the July 2006 coordinated bombings of the Mumbai Suburban Railway, terrorist attacks have continually targeted public transportation systems worldwide.  However, despite this clear pattern of terrorist activity, the nation’s public transportation workers continue to report that they have received insufficient or no anti-terrorism and emergency response training. 

Accordingly, the Department’s failure to abide by the public transportation security training directives set forth by Congress in P.L. 110-53 is extremely concerning.  Specifically, we are concerned that the Department’s failure to meet Congress’ November 1, 2007 deadline for the issuance of interim security training regulations will subsequently delay the Department’s issuance of final regulations and as a result, unnecessarily postpone the long overdue implementation of worker security training programs at our nation’s public transportation agencies.  In addition, we are concerned that the Department’s apparent failure to consult with public transportation labor representatives as it develops national worker security training guidelines will result in public transportation security training programs that are less than comprehensive.

For these reasons, we respectfully ask that you provide us, by November 21, 2007, with detailed information regarding the Department’s progress in complying with Section 1408 of P.L. 110-53. 

We thank you for your prompt attention to this matter. 

Sincerely,

Rep. Stephen F. Lynch (D-MA)

Rep. Albio Sires (D-NJ)

Rep. James P. Moran (D-VA)

Rep. Michael E. Capuano (D-MA)

Rep. Jerrod Nadler (D-NY)

Rep. Allyson Y. Schwartz (D-PA)

Rep. Corrine Brown (D-FL)

Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY)

Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA)

Rep. Doris O. Matsui (D-CA)

Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro (D-CT)

Rep. Linda T. Sanchez (D-CA)

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR)

Rep. Michael H. Michaud (D-ME)

Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-HI)

Rep. William D. Delahunt (D-MA)

Rep. Robert A. Brady (D-PA)

Rep. James P. McGovern (D-MA)

Rep. Thomas H. Allen (D-ME)

Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-PA)

Rep. Betty Sutton (D-OH)

Rep. Raul M. Grijalva (D-AZ)

Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ)

Rep. Jason Altmire (D-PA)

Rep. John J. Hall (D-NY)

Rep. Zachary T. Space (D-OH)

Rep. Brian Higgins (D-NY)

Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA)

Rep. Janice D. Schakowsky (D-IL)

-30-