Senate Republicans all talk, no action on national security
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) took to the floor of the Senate on Monday and set the stage for a week that will see the Senate considering efforts to truly bolster national security and with little patience for the Republican stonewalling of security measures proposed by Democrats (and killed) in the last Congress. "We will take steps to protect America from the greatest threat we face -- nuclear terrorism. We will enhance the security of our transportation system and our ports," said Reid on Monday. "We will provide America's first responders with the technology they need to communicate with each other during a crisis. In the process, we will make America more secure." "Five and a half years after 9/11, we don't have a day to waste." And Reid took a direct shot at Senate Republicans who somehow still manage to position themselves with a clueless corporate media as the party of national security, despite showing no leadership on the subject since September 11, 2001 and, in fact, overtly fighting investments in America's security infrastructure. "For 6 years, this White House and past Congresses have talked a good game about protecting America, but while they were distracted and consumed with staying the course in Iraq, they failed to heed the lessons of September 11, 2001 -- that we must do more to protect and secure our communities from the real terrorist threat here at home," said the Senate Majority Leader. Reid then pointed out in very specific terms what was proposed by Democrats in the last Congress, only to be shot down by Republicans -- and almost always on straight, party-line votes, with the GOP providing no alternative measures.
"In the last Congress, Democrats tried to move forward with tough and smart solutions to keep the homeland safe. Unfortunately, those of us who tried to follow the Commission's roadmap hit nothing but speed bumps. "In 2005, we tried to increase funding for first responders by $1.6 billion. Our effort was rejected on a party-line vote. "Days later, we tried to restore $1 billion to the COPS Program, so important for law enforcement throughout the country. We were rejected again along party lines. "In July 2005, just days after the subway bombings in London, the Senate considered legislation that would have improved security on rails. Again, with a party-line vote, we went down. "That same day, the Senate voted on legislation to allocate money to secure our ports. The measure fell along party lines. "The end result of this obstruction: America today is not as safe as it can be, should be, or must be."
And Reid could have mentioned many more of these instances, including multiple attempts by Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) to get better communications equipment for first responders and a bill by Chuck Schumer (D-NY) that would have provided critical funding for air-cargo security screening. True to what we've seen of a Republican administration filled with so many Chickenhawks
, this shines a bright light on how the GOP talks tough on national security, but seldom backs up that rhetoric with action or deeds. With 21 Republican Senate seats up for grabs in 2008, this will be excellent and valid information to share with voters You can read more from Bob at BobGeiger.com
Bob Geiger is a writer, activist and Democratic operative in Westchester County, NY.