Nationally syndicated radio host Rush Limbaugh falsely accused Senate Democrats of opposing anti-terrorism funding. Hours after the July 7 bombings in London, Limbaugh said that he could "name you any Democrat senator, any number of the American media, trying to pretend 9-11 didn't happen, trying to make you think that all of these efforts to stop another attack are just a waste of money and some sort of silly little personal vendetta that Bush has, whatever excuse they came up with."
But Limbaugh's accusation is inaccurate. As the Center for American Progress (CAP) has pointed out, it is the Bush administration and the Republican-controlled Congress -- not Senate Democrats -- that have stifled funding for homeland security improvements, including rail and transit security. On July 7, the Houston Chronicle reported that earlier this year, "a Senate Appropriations committee proposed reducing Transportation Security Administration grants for rail security from $150 million in 2005 to $100 million in fiscal 2006." A July 7 Reuters report added, "The Republican-led Congress appears to have little appetite for a big rail security program."
CAP has also noted that a federal judge recently criticized the Bush administration for failing to develop a "consistent and comprehensive federal policy addressing the risks of terrorism on our interstate rail system."
Sen. Susan M. Collins (R-ME), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee, also acknowledged the lack of funding for several homeland security needs, including rail security. As reported on National Public Radio's July 8 broadcast of Morning Edition, Collins stated, "We have, perhaps, over-invested in aviation security at the expense of other vulnerabilities, whether it's rail security, chemical facilities, or the security of our seaports. I believe that these bombings will prompt a reassessment of federal spending and the allocation of scarce resources."
In contrast to Limbaugh's accusation, Senate Democrats have actually responded to terrorism by fighting for anti-terrorism funding. As recently as March, for example, Senate Democrats unanimously supported an amendment sponsored by Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (D-CT) to restore "$565 million in cuts to vital first-responder programs in the Department of Homeland Security" and provide $150 million for port security grants and $140 million for 1,000 new Border Patrol agents. The amendment passed over the opposition of most of the Senate Republican leadership, including Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN), Republican Whip Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and Republican Conference Chairman Rick Santorum (R-PA).
A month later, an amendment proposed by Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) to provide $390 million in additional funding for border security also won unanimous support from Senate Democrats and passed, despite "nay" votes from 34 Republican senators, including Frist and McConnell.
From the July 7 broadcast of The Rush Limbaugh Show:
LIMBAUGH: You've been asking me since 9-11, "Rush, if it happens again, does it hurt Bush?" No, it's not going to hurt the one guy that's out there trying to do something about it. The people that are trying to pretend it didn't happen -- ahem -- I can name you any Democrat senator, any number of the American media, trying to pretend 9-11 didn't happen, trying to make you think that all of these efforts to stop another attack are just a waste of money and some sort of silly little personal vendetta that Bush has, whatever excuse they came up with. The [Sen.] Dick Durbins [D-IL] of the world that are out there wailing and moaning about Gitmo and Abu Ghraib and so forth, they're the ones that are going to have to face cameras and explain themselves.