Hawaiian Senator Criticizes White House on Transportation Security

HONOLULU (AP) - U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye said Tuesday he doesn't understand the Bush administration's "lack of serious attention and commitment" to forms of transportation other than airlines.

"Security funding for all modes of transportation beyond aviation has been desperately lacking," Inouye, D-Hawaii, said in a statement at a Senate Commerce Committee hearing on President Bush's budget request for the Transportation Security Administration.

Aviation security has received 90 percent of the TSA funding and "virtually all of its attention," he said.

"There is simply not enough being done to address port, rail, motor carrier, hazardous material shipment and pipeline security," he said. "That must change quickly."

According to Senate Banking Committee estimates, the federal government has spent $9.16 per airline passenger each year on enhanced security measures, while spending less than a penny annually per person on security measures for other modes of transportation, Inouye said.

Port security is of particular interest, Inouye said.

"My state of Hawaii is entirely dependent upon shipping and the steady flow of maritime commerce," he said. "The dock strike at the port of LA/Long Beach in 2001 caused people in my state to begin running out of basic supplies. If an attack occurs, it could be weeks before service is renewed.

"It is important to remember that 95 percent of the nation's cargo comes through the ports, so a port incident will send devastating shock waves through the entire economy, impacting every state," he said. "Yet the security initiatives at most ports have been, to this point, woefully underfunded, and most ports are ill-prepared for an attack."

The administration's TSA budget proposal also offers inadequate funding for the Coast Guard to meet both its increased homeland security responsibilities and its traditional missions like search and rescue and enforcement of coastal laws, Inouye said.

He also said the administration's proposal to increase aviation security fees make no sense.

"The airline industry is bordering on total bankruptcy, and the administration wants to add to its costs," he said. "Yet at the same time the administration is demanding that its unaffordable tax cuts be made permanent."