WASHINGTON, DC – Rep. Eric Swalwell (CA-15) led 96 House Members in urging rejection of President Donald Trump’s proposal to slash funding for transit security that is crucial to protecting American lives.
“I have no greater priority in Congress than the safety of the American people,” said Swalwell. “The President’s plan to gut funding for transit security puts American lives at risk. In Brussels, Madrid, and London, terrorists have targeted mass transit to carry out deadly attacks. To ensure an American city is not next, we must invest in the security of our public transit systems. No one should feel unsafe riding our rails, buses, and ferries.”
The Trump Administration proposes cutting funding for the Department of Homeland Security’s Transit Security Grant Program (TSGP) by almost two thirds, from $100 million to only $36.4 million in fiscal year (FY) 2020. It further proposes a 25 percent non-federal cost share requirement that will make it more expensive for agencies to accept TSGP awards.
Americans made almost 10.1 billion passenger trips on mass transit in 2017, according to the American Public Transportation Association. The sheer number of people taking these trips, the ease with which anyone can enter and exit public transit systems, and their location mostly in urban areas make them prime targets for attacks.
TSGP is a competitive grant program administrated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency through which eligible public transit agencies operating bus, rail, and ferry systems can get money for measures including operational activities like surveillance or asset protection like tunnel hardening.
Swalwell led lawmakers in sending a letter to the House Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee’s bipartisan leaders, urging them to reject the President’s proposed cuts. In the letter, lawmakers also request an increase in FY 2020 funding from $100 million to at least $105 million as well as a rejection of the suggestion for a non-federal cost share requirement.
“While we recognize that the current budget climate makes funding choices difficult, we urge you to keep in mind the consequences of failing to commit sufficient resources to protect mass transit systems used daily by millions of Americans,” the Members wrote. “The small amount of money spent now could be dwarfed by the savings in lives and damage by preventing a horrific attack.”
Click here to read the full text of the letter.