On Thursday May 25th, in a rare show of bipartisanship, the House of Representatives moved to strengthen rail security by passing a major amendment offered by Rep. Stephen F. Lynch (D-MA), Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ), and Rep. Michael Castle (R-DE) to increase state and local rail security funding.

"This amendment will provide an additional $50 million to protect citizens who travel by subway, Amtrak and commuter rail,” said Lynch, who presented the amendment to the House on Thursday.

While several amendments throughout the debate were defeated along party lines, the Lynch-Holt-Castle Amendment was a notable exception, passing with the support of 183 Democrats and 41 Republican votes.

During floor debate, Lynch warned that anti-terrorism funds had been narrowly focused on aviation security while rail security had been forgotten.

"It has been said that Congress is always fighting the last war,” said Lynch.  "Since 9/11, we have spent almost 97% of transportation security funds on aviation alone. Meanwhile, we have spent only 3% to protect the commuter rail and subways.  This is despite the fact that rail transportation handles  five times as many passengers as our aviation system.”

Lynch added that rail transit systems around the world had become the favorite targets of terrorist attacks. "We know that our rail and transit systems are the new targets of terrorists-we simply need to ensure that we are better prepared.” 

Lynch noted that in 1995, both the Tokyo and Paris subways had been the targets of coordinated terrorist attacks and that in 2004, similar attacks on the Moscow subway were followed by coordinated bombings against commuter trains in Madrid.  And most recently, terrorists claiming Al-Qaeda ties attacked the London transit system in July of 2005. 

Despite this pattern of terrorists targeting major transit systems across the globe, "the Bush Administration has actually sought to shortchange these critical and widely-used transportation systems. We have to close this gap in security,” said Lynch.