Senator Boxer is working to make sure the government is doing everything possible to protect every Californian and every American. She meets regularly with first responders, airport staff, seaport security and rail workers throughout the state to hear from those on the frontlines protecting Californians every day. In Washington, Senator Boxer continues to fight to fully fund critical security initiatives.
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Improving Aviation Security and Safety
- New Air Safety Requirements - Following the crash of Continental Connection Flight 3407 crash, Senator Boxer is working to pass legislation that would implement many of the National Transportation Safety Board recommendations. The bill requires additional training for pilots, de-icing regulations, and strict timelines to develop rules for fatigue management. The bill will make sure pilots are accountable by giving carriers access to pilots’ records and requires random inspections at flight schools to ensure that training and safety standards are being enforced.
- Air Traffic Controller Shortages – California has some of the nation’s busiest air space. To ensure that there are enough trained air traffic controllers in California, Senator Boxer wrote an amendment to increase air traffic controller staffing levels throughout the state. Her amendment would provide more training instructors and equipment to handle new trainees and prioritize filling vacancies.
- Shoulder Fired Missiles - Senator Boxer is the leading advocate in the Senate for eliminating the threat from shoulder-fired missiles on commercial aircraft and passengers. In 2004, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed an amendment by Senator Boxer to authorize $10 million that would expand the State Department’s program to buy back and destroy shoulder-fired missiles.
- Air Marshals on High-Risk Flights - Senator Boxer authored the provision of the 2001 Aviation Security law that required high-risk flights, such as the non-stop cross-country flights that were hijacked on September 11, have an air marshal on board.
- Arming Pilots in the Cockpit - Senator Boxer led a bipartisan coalition to pass an amendment that would allow pilots to carry guns in cockpits and provide flight crews self-defense training.
- Tougher Penalties for Fake IDs - Senator Boxer successfully authored legislation, passed by the Senate, to increase criminal penalties for anyone who produces, transfers, possesses, or uses a fake ID in connection with domestic terrorism. The Senate also passed a Boxer proposal requiring the Transportation Security Administration to develop guidelines on training airline workers to detect fake IDs.
Working to Make Trains, Borders and Ports Safer
- Screening Cargo Containers - Senator Boxer wrote the High-Tech Port Security Act of 2003, which would employ state-of-the-art technology to enhance security at America’s ports. Under the legislation, cargo containers would be screened for radioactive or explosive material before leaving ports, and cargo containers would have to be blast-resistant. The measure also would establish command and control centers to improve security at the nation’s 20 busiest ports.
- Collision Avoidance - Senator Boxer worked to require mandatory collision avoidance systems on all trains that operate on track shared by both passenger and freight trains. She wrote the legislation in the wake of the deadly Metrolink crash near Los Angeles in 2008. Senator Boxer continues to fight for funding to help install crash-avoidance technologies. She has also worked to secure critical funding for Metrolink and to fully fund an important rail-safety grant program for positive train control.
- Interoperable Communications - Senator Boxer cosponsored comprehensive rail security legislation, which included several provisions she wrote. Senator Boxer authored language that ensured Amtrak Security grant funds could be used to buy interoperable communications equipment, allowing Amtrak to communicate with local first responders. The grant funds could also be used to hire additional police officers and canine units to patrol rail stations and trains.
- Rail Security Funding - Senator Boxer wrote a bill to help improve rail security by providing $2.5 billion to protect our rail system, transit systems, and passengers from terrorist attacks. The funding would be used for more police, canine units, and surveillance equipment. One-third of the funds would be used for Amtrak; two-thirds of the funding would be used for freight and local mass transit systems.
Fighting to Fund Homeland Security
- Urban Area Security Initiative - Senator Boxer fought for fair allocations of Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) grant funds for high risk areas. When Sacramento and San Diego were left off the list of high-risk cities making them ineligible for UASI grant funding, Senator Boxer led the fight to have DHS revise its methodology. Senator Boxer’s efforts made San Diego and Sacramento again eligible for this critical security funding. Senator Boxer authored the Urban Area Security Initiative Improvement Act of 2007, qualifying the 100 most populous urban areas in the United States for Homeland Security UASI grants.
- First Responders - After consulting with first responders throughout California, Senator Boxer introduced the First Responders Homeland Defense Act, which would provide grants to improve local first responder communication systems and provide funding to non-profit organizations to train first responders.
- Distributing Rail Security Funds – The Rail Security Act of 2004 included a provision authored by Senator Boxer that ensured equitable distribution of rail security funds based on passenger ridership so that California would receive its fair share. The bill passed the Senate in October 2005.
Preparing California for Emergencies
- National Guard Readiness - The Senate passed an amendment by Senator Boxer requiring the Department of Defense to report to Congress on the ability of the National Guard to respond to domestic emergencies. Evidence showed that California National Guard had lost vital equipment in Iraq limiting the guard’s capability to respond to large-scale emergency, such as an earthquake or a catastrophic wildfire. Her amendment became law in 2008.
- FEMA Earthquake Response - - The Senate unanimously approved Senator Boxer’s amendment to require the Director of FEMA to submit a report to Congress outlining the federal earthquake response plans for high-risk earthquake regions.
- Increasing Public Awareness of Emergency Preparedness - Senator Boxer sponsored a bill to provide grants to local governments to increase public awareness education of preparedness efforts for natural disasters, terrorist attacks, and an influenza pandemic.