Washington, DC — With the same Bush Administration that sold America’s energy policies to the oil companies mortgaging away the security of our ports, House and Senate Democrats today joined together to call for a real security commitment to ensure that all cargo passing through our nation’s ports is inspected to prevent terrorists from smuggling weapons of mass destruction into America.
Nearly five years after 9/11, and months after the Dubai Ports controversy, America’s ports remain dangerously unsecured. Democratic Senators Bob Menendez, Chuck Schumer, Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Frank Lautenberg, and Representatives Edward Markey, and Jerry Nadler called on President Bush and his Republicans in Congress to stop ignoring this critical part of America’s security and join Democrats in providing the funding necessary to protect our nation.
“Four and a half years after 9/11, we still don’t know what is in 95% of the containers that come through our ports,” said Senator Menendez. “That is a colossal failure by this administration, and our plan will ensure that we know what is in every container entering this country.”
“Right now the United States is playing Russian Roulette with our homeland security by inspecting only 5% of all containers coming into our ports. This week Republicans in Congress have an opportunity to stand up to protect the security of all Americans and close a glaring port security loophole that continues to leave our country vulnerable to another terrorist attack. The Republican Congress should stop putting the interests of private industry ahead of the security concerns of millions of Americans and support Democrats’ call for 100% inspection of cargo containers before they reach our shores,” said Rep. Markey who will offer an amendment in the Homeland Security Committee to mandate 100% inspection.
“Port security has been the neglected step child of homeland security. Even after stopping the Dubai Ports deal, we are going to continue to shine a bright light on the inadequate job this Administration is doing to secure our ports,” said Senator Schumer. “But America’s security doesn’t end with protecting our ports. Energy security and consumer’s economic security is critical as well and we are going to make sure that Americans aren’t gouged at the gas pump and our energy supply is secure from opportunistic oil companies.”
“It’s common sense–and the experts’ agreement–that this country will not be safe until we scan every shipping container that enters our ports, period,” said Congressman Nadler. “Republicans have wasted years doing nothing to protect our ports. They crow a lot about security, but when it comes to nuts and bolts, they’ve made zero progress. Homeland security starts at our ports, and Democrats will make 100-percent scanning the policy of the United States.”
“The facts are hard to ignore – nearly 95% of the international goods coming into the U.S. come in through over 260 ports across the U.S. and yet we still don’t have the safeguards in place to ensure that even a small percentage of that cargo is checked. We simply cannot continue to leave our ports and our cities open to this kind of risk,” Senator Clinton said. “We know what it takes to secure our ports – we did it for our airlines. We must take real and meaningful steps right now to ensure that the safeguards are in place to provide real security to every port in our nation.”
“Over the last several years, the port security has been turned into another pork barrel program. Last year, Memphis got as much money for port security as New Jersey. In prior years, money went to landlocked states like Oklahoma,” said Senator Lautenberg. “I was able to pass a measure requiring port security grants to be risk-based. But in the long run, as long as the Bush administration doesn’t take port security seriously, the American people won’t be safe.”
Democrats believe the highest responsibility of government is to provide for the security of the American people. While Bush Republicans have allowed dangerously incompetent policies to leave America less safe than it should be, Democrats have announced their Real Security plan, a comprehensive agenda that is both tough AND smart to secure America and defend our nation.