Homeland Security and Fighting Terrorism
According to the FBI, the stretch from Port Newark to Newark Liberty International Airport is the most dangerous 2-mile stretch in the country, and New Jersey was hit hard by the terrorist attack on 9/11. Senator Lautenberg remembers this every day as he works to improve our nation’s and our state’s homeland security efforts. As the first Senator to introduce legislation to make sure homeland security funding is determined according to real risk and threat—not pork barrel spending— Senator Lautenberg has been a leader in fighting to protect New Jersey and the entire nation from future terrorist attacks, address security vulnerabilities and implement the 9-11 Commission’s recommendations. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee, Senator Lautenberg is well-positioned to conduct oversight and make decisions about funding priorities for the Department of Homeland Security.
New Jersey is home to one of our country’s largest ports with a high volume of incoming cargo. Accordingly, in 2005 Senator Lautenberg wrote the law to require that all federal port security grants be allocated entirely on the basis of risk. In addition, as he successfully fought attempts by the Bush Administration to reduce port security grant levels, yielding twice the amount of money requested by President Bush. Finally, Lautenberg is insisting on a sound plan by the current Department of Homeland Security to ensure the safety and security of all shipping containers that are sent to the United States.
New Jersey is also home to many chemical plants, a sector that has not received sufficient focus by the federal government. New Jersey is leading the way at the state level to improve the safety and security of chemical plants. That is why Senator Lautenberg wrote the law to preserve New Jersey’s strong chemical security laws and allow them to be stronger than federal regulations. That Lautenberg law prevented the Bush Administration from moving forward with its proposal to preempt and nullify New Jersey’s laws. Meanwhile, Senator Lautenberg is working to improve federal chemical security laws by hardening targets and moving manufacturers toward using new, safer technologies and chemicals.
Aviation and Rail Security
Senator Lautenberg believes our security assessments and actions must be based on real risk, not ideology or arbitrary formulas. In 2007, Senator Lautenberg wrote the law lifting an arbitrary nationwide cap on baggage screeners, allowing the Transportation Security Administration to hire more screeners for Newark-Liberty Airport. He is working to get a greater number of experienced air traffic controllers at our commercial towers, and next generation air traffic control equipment at our busy airports. Senator Lautenberg also wrote provisions that are now law to authorize $160 million to upgrade tunnels used by NJ Transit and Amtrak in New Jersey and New York.
Standing up for American Victims of TerrorismSenator Lautenberg has a long and impressive legacy that continues today of standing up to rogue terrorist states and ensuring justice for American victims of terrorism. He wrote the original laws to allow victims of terrorism to bring legal action against foreign governments that sponsor terrorist acts, helping the Flatow and Duker families of New Jersey recover damages from Iran in the late 1990s. Senator Lautenberg then wrote a law in January 2008 to strengthen the right of terrorist victims to sue state sponsors of terrorism such as Iran and Libya and go after their hidden commercial assets for compensation. This law, combined with Senator Lautenberg’s blocking a U.S. Ambassador to Libya and withholding foreign assistance to Libya, put pressure on Libya and the U.S. State Department to work harder to compensate American victims of Libyan terrorism. This pressure led to an August 2008 law spearheaded by Lautenberg that implements a final settlement agreement to resolve all outstanding U.S. terrorism claims against the Libyan government, including those from New Jersey in the 1988 Pan Am 103 bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland. The U.S. and Libya both signed the agreement and created the fund, and Libya paid the money in the fall of 2008.