July 16, 2005

Democrats hit Bush on security of buses, trains

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democrats accused President Bush and
his fellow Republicans in Congress on Saturday of failing to do
enough to prevent London-type bombing strikes on the nation's
mass-transit systems.

They argued that while the government has dug deep into its
financial pockets to bolster airline security since the Sept.
11, 2001, attacks on the United States, relatively little has
been done to better protect trains and buses.

"In the past four years, the federal government has spent
about $9 per flying passenger, but only 1 cent per transit
passenger," Rep. Robert Menendez of New Jersey said in
delivering his Democratic Party's weekly radio address.

"While the money we spend on aviation security is
absolutely necessary, we cannot afford to forsake public
transportation security," said Menendez.

"The president's refusal to acknowledge this reality in his
budget is putting the lives of Americans needlessly at risk,"
Menendez said.

Menendez's aggressive tone underscored the increased
political squabbling in the war on terrorism, and came a month
after White House adviser Karl Rove riled Democrats by charging
that liberals responded weakly to the Sept. 11 attacks.

This week, the Republican-led U.S. Senate approved $31
billion for airport, border and other domestic security --
after defeating efforts to significantly increase spending for
protection for mass transit in the wake of last week's London

Sen. Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat, blasted Bush's
secretary of homeland security, Michael Chertoff, for saying
states and localities had to bear the brunt of safeguarding
mass transit.

Other critics noted that American mass transit systems
carry 16 times more passengers each day than aviation, and
argued the federal government needs to spend more to shield

Menendez, in the radio address, said, "The subway and bus
bombings in London once again caught the world's attention, but
were unfortunately just another reminder that public
transportation is a favorite target for terrorists."

"We have been fortunate so far in this country that we have
not been hit by terrorist attacks on our buses or trains,"
Menendez said. "But as world events keep reminding us, we can
not afford to be complacent."