tv Politics Public Policy Today CSPAN June 2, 2015 12:00pm-2:01pm EDT
downloading the equipment in the lowcomotive to find out what speed they are traveling. >> i was here the entire time. i wanted you to repeat it again. >> thank you. >> positive train control that is one of the most important aspects of safety and what we talked about the cars itself. and we talked about the crew. it's the combination. can expound on that a little bit? >> positive train control is a system that's layered on top of several systems we operate today, one being positive train control. every time there's a temporary speed change we use a manual system because the dispatcher and the engineer has to write down what has occurred here. we use from the manual system up
to a positive train control system in order to ensure that we operate safely and do run a safe railroad. >> other than positive train control and the facing cameras what are some other safety measures you think we need to put in place? >> thank you for the question. we've heard questions about fatigue fatigue, looging into that. infrastructure in terms of maintenance -- the state of good repair, we always are looking at that. we're looking at the totality of circumstances, the best situation is for the train to stay on the track in the first place. we want to provide survivability for passengers if it doesn't stay on the track. >> you all acted quickly and i want to thank you all for that. do you think there's additional training that the employees need? >> that is something we're taking a look at now. when i referred to the
potential -- the package we're putting together that would address potential human factors, that's something we'll take a close look at. >> mr. pierce, what are in your concerns about the training of employees for a disaster i want to commend that the employees did an excellent job. i was being -- it was being monitored and started to get calls as soon as it happened and i want to thank you for that. what additional training do you think the employees need for disaster? >> i think the training that the employees receive is in large part the normal operations type training disaster training is obviously something that we don't hope we'll ever have to experience. i'm not sure exactly to what extent the difference is as to how much actual accident type training that the employees are receiving on amtrak right now. i have to defer to mr. vortman on that one.
>> so what amtrak does today as emergency management system we're working in concert with first responders up and down the corridor and across the country with police departments and have an incident command structure that was a requirement in the we have a family assistance program and work with the ntsb to stand that up properly we depend on those first responders in the community such as -- and i talked about it earlier philadelphia in this particular case. but we have an ongoing good relationship to make sure we have the proper drills across the country. >> my time is running out, with a i would like from each of the members in writing what are some of the infrastructure projects that we need in the northeast corridor like the baltimore terminals and other things to make sure that we are -- we in congress are doing
what we need to do because when my colleagues trying to imply that money is not an issue money is an issue. and some of the tunnels and we went up on the train and we talked to people along the way. we know that there are many tunnels and infrastructure conditions that need to be upgraded. >> i ask for a response. >> we will provide that list for you. >> i would like to -- [ indiscernible ] >> we'll provide the questions in writing but ask for a response on infrastructure needs from each of you thank you. >> you're recognized for five minutes. >> i thank the chair and
witnesses for their testimony this morning. following up on questions that might have already been asked i want to ask you about what seems to be in your testimony a right to privacy. in the locomotive -- is that the position of the brotherhood or not? >> i didn't say right to privacy. there are privacy concerns about the storage of data. i don't think anyone wants to see their last minutes if they are killed in a locomotive collision to be floating around on youtube to be honest with you. there are steps that need to be taken to make sure that the data is protected and the data is used for what everybody seems to think it is used for which is post accident testing. >> it seems that's covered and other modes of transportation and industry. >> to date it has not been worked out. there is no regulation fra has
started the rule making process on cameras but until there's regulation, the railroads are running programs each one independent of the other and the data storage is something that's different on every railroad. >> right but however gruesome the photo or whatever the situation might be or whatever goes on youtube, when you're on the job you would agree there's a right to privacy? >> you're kind of putting words in my mouth. our concerns are many -- it's a yes or no question. you might have answered already. you don't agree there's a right to privacy, is that correct. >>? >> i don't see it as a yes or no answer. >> there is a right to privacy? >> there should be a reasonable installation of cameras and have not been afforded that opportunity yet. >> do airline pilots have a right to privacy in anything recorded on the black box or anything in the atc communications or anything like that? >> it's my understanding faa
made a presentation to the group about the model that the airline industry uses and we have -- that was at our recommendation because we would embrace that. it is not been offered to us. >> okay, but you would embrace it if that was the case. >> yes. >> following up on congressman perry's line of questioning on the $800 billion spent on stimulus projects or other things regarding -- i'm sorry, a head in the way. do you have any experience or recollection or numbers to give us regarding how much of the $800 billion was spent on ptc on your railroad? >> 800 billion? >> yeah, part of the stimulus package. >> no. >> any of the money or any of the subsidized money that was given -- >> 800 billion is not a number
that rings with me of course amtrak would love to have $800 billion, don't get me wrong but -- >> any stimulus funds whatsoever, how much was spent on ptc in your estimation? >> we did not spend any stimulus money on ptc per se unless there was some particular part of another project. >> why not? >> because that wasn't what it was used for. it was looking for real investment in the bridge for example, and also rebuilding a whole session of the railroad. >> was there a prohibition? >> i'm sorry? >> was there a legal prohibition in your experience against using stimulus funds? >> they were looking for infrastructure projects -- >> was there a legal prohibition, do you know? >> i don't know. >> can you add anything to that? do you think there's a legal prohibition against using
stimulus funds for ptc? >> i'm sorry, i don't think there's a legal prohibition against -- i don't think so. >> why do you think we didn't use funds for ptc if that's the case? or do you have any estimation of the amount of stimulus funds that might have been used? >> to take all of the stimulus dollars and give it to amtrak and class one to implement ptc, i'm not sure that is something that occurred to anyone. i don't think it was even discussed. >> really? it's being discussed like it's a no brainer high priority that has been wanting to be done for decades since 1969. this never occurred to anyone? >> by the deadline we're approaching now, i do not know if it was a subject that you all discussed. >> i'm asking if you discussed it. if anyone in the industry the
regulator all testifying here today that this was such an important provision who's concept came become in 1969 i think is what ranking member defazio stated. in all of that interim time and having the stimulus money, no one thought to use that money for ptc? my question is if so how much was used for ptc? >> we would ask for a quick response but this is another one we would ask in writing for all of the stimulus dollars. >> mr. chairman if you can get a date from the witnesses when they can respond. >> absolutely, we'll get that final testimony -- >> if we can get it on the record, that would be great. >> ms. feinberg? >> we're happy to get that to you all. >> you're recognized for five minutes. >> thank you. mr. boardman the $800 billion of stimulus funds isn't it true
amtrak got $1.1 billion total? >> i'm sorry, sir? >> of the $800 billion stimulus funds, $240 billion was tax cuts not spending isn't it true amtrak was allocated $1.1 billion not $800 billion? >> i think it was 1.4. 1.3. >> 1.3. and the total cost of -- that was basically congress instructed you to spend that on projects that were ready to go as fast as possible, infrastructure projects, is that correct? >> that's correct and you spent it on what in broad terms? >> night an tick river bridge and some additional infrastructure -- >> infrastructure bridges and so forth, which i assume had you not spent on those it would have been safety problems? >> yes. >> so the basic -- okay thank
you. amtrak has requested for fiscal year 2016 now does this go beyond finishing the implementation of ptc by the end of this calendar year? yes, it is off the northeast corridor. this isn't on the spine of the corridor. that will be done by the end of december. but we have other work we need to get done. >> would it have been done sooner if they had more funds. >> if they had come a while ago but not now. >> two or three years ago it could have i am plimt plemted? >> we had a dependable amount of money to move forward, yes. >> to switch topics for a moment, the tunnels into new york have been described as ticking time bombs because of damage from salt water during hurricane sandy. what's the stalt us of those
tunnels? how much funding is necessary to prevent that from happening. >> we found out this winter what would happen if they went out of service we had so much ice regular ice patrols had to knock down the ice in one of the tubes. when that happened you went from being able to move 24 trains an hour down to 6 trains an hour. so we got a lot of complaints from new jersey transit and from amtrak riders that they had to wait outside one of the tubes in order to get into new york city. that's exactly what -- >> going from 24 trains an hour to 6 trains an hour is the only rail access into new york city from new jersey would have a significant effect on the economy? >> absolutely. >> can you quan fi that at all? >> i will for you. i'll get back to you with that answer. >> please. >> i understand that amtrak is a $21 billion backlog of projects on the northeast corridor. is that arc rat? >> that's what the commission developed and produced yes.
>> do you have any source of funding for the $21 billion? >> no more so than what we get each year. >> how much is in the budget that the house just passed? >> 1.39 was what we had last year. >> that's the total, that's not just for projects -- >> not just the projects -- >> $21 billion necessary to get to a state of good repair in the northeast corridor how much was appropriated for that purpose or available for that purpose from the amount of funds voted by the house a couple of years. >> it was some dollars specifically identified for advancing our gateway system but not capital dollars for us to actually build it. >> no capital dollars at all. so zero of the 21. that's a pretty good ratio. now, we've heard that amtrak will have ptc, positive train
control in place on the spine and what's the status of ptc implementation on other commuter rails and what will it take for commuter lines to meet the deadline? >> they are struggling, very much struggling to meet the deadline. we just completed a loan to the mta for almost a billion dollars to assist with their ptc implementation. that will go beyond the deadline. >> do we have any estimate as to when the commuter rails across the country are likely to be able to implement ptc? >> it varies dramatically, anywhere from 16 to 18 to 20. >> in other words a year to two to four years after the deadline, we know the possible safety repercussions. let me just say that the transportation appropriations bill includes no money for commuter lines such as metro north to install ptc.
amtrak funds this out of federal capital grants which are cut by $290 million. despite the fact there's a $21 billion backlog to achiefly a state of good repair we spend about $50 billion on highways and about $16 billion on $17 billion on aviation. and $1.2 billion on rail. there's something very wrong with the appropriations process and for us to sit here and not understand that the fact that congress has been starving amtrak has a large role to play in what we're talking about is putting our heads in the sand. >> mr. costello. >> thank you, mr. chairman. let me start with ms. feinberg, i want to thank you for your time and attention the day following the tragedy when we went and visited the site. my question to you relates to 49
cfr part 220 restrictions on railroad operating use of cellular telephones and other electronic devices, the final rule in which the secretary essentially delegated to you, do you thinkties to exercise the authority and prohibit the use of personal electronic devices that may disinstruct employees from safely performing their duties. railroad operating employees were increasingly using distracting devices in a matter that created hazards. i'm going from the federal reg star dated monday 2010. he found this part particularly interesting. relating to access to employee's personal cell phone records, fra has decided that a provision mandating that railroads require operating employees to provide access to personal cell phone records in the event of an accident is unnecessary for fra
purposes. instead, fra kufrntly uses its investigative authority to obtain personal cell phone records when appropriate. is that what you're doing now? through your investigative arm, not in -- that's how you're getting the personal cell phone records? >> that's correct, following accident we subpoenaed those records. >> and in looking at -- inward looking cameras if you had inward looking cameras would the operating engineer at that point in time you would be able to ascertain whether or not a personal cell phone was being used is that correct? >> that's one of the purposes. >> is there concerns that without the inward facing camera there, i did also go through this rule in detail. there are times throughout the ride when it would be a legitimate -- operating engineer
would legitimately be able to look at their cell phone? >> the phone should be off and stored. >> should be right. >> okay. if we had an inward facing camera, we would know already if that were the case? >> yes, the inward facing camera would also provide us information after an accident, which would be useful. we wouldn't even be needing to have this debate at the moment. >> my question next turns to mr. pierce. i understand that you were -- i think making a distinction between privacy concerns and right to privacy i sort of intu it it from your testimony and questions you were answering. can you talk more about this reasonable implementation because i'm a little concerned when we're talking about the privacy concerns of an individual operating engineer who would be taped while in the performance of her duties
because essentially you have to balance that against the public safety considerations of the 200 or 300 plus passengers who are in the train. i think a lot of us are concerned that your testimony seems to suggest that we need to really focus on the privacy concerns of the operating engineer and not some of the public safety assurances and some of the information that would be elicited if you had the inward facing cameras moving forward. so i want to give you an opportunity to sort of share with me a little bit more -- share with us a little bit more about what it is about these privacy concerns that you hold so dear on behalf of your membership? >> thank you, i do want to first comment about the comments made earlier about litigation when cameras started. the unions didn't go to court to block cameras. they took us to court to install them. the record needs to be clear on who actually started the litigation effort to install
cameras. cameras so far have been on freight railroads on class one properties. they run 24/7, whether the train is moving or stopped and we have crew members that can sit on a train up to six hours without moving. we've asked the railroad shut the camera off if there's no safety sensitive duties being performed and -- >> what about about -- >> right now they run 24/7. the parts we have taken exception to, i'm trying to identify we haven't said that there should be an outright prohibition, we said that the implementation has been done in a way there are disputes over it. >> do you believe there's a sound public policy in favor of having an inward facing camera on the operating engineer at all times during the moving of the passenger rail? >> i know that's where the industry is headed -- >> that could be a yes or no answer. >> just so you know all of the activities of the engineer are
already recorded on an event recorder through the technology of the control stand. all we get is a picture of what it does. we already know with the exception of the cell phone use what he does. >> my time is up. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, mr. chairman, just to round out the point on funding -- well first of all congratulations on being named the future administrator. i want to point out throughout this process my time with the committee you've been exceptionally responsive and incredibly hopeful to us in so many ways and i'm excited to see you're going to be continuing in this role. on the point on funding, the point is in the grow america act you included $800 million for commuter rail systems to help them speed up the implementation of ptc, correct? >> right. >> we're not just worried about amtrak, but all types of commuter systems that can't do this on time?
>> correct. >> amtrak is the only one who has their act together on this right? >> they are the only one that has their act together and metro link is also in good shape and seta is i am pretsive. >> one of the great tragedies about the accident amtrak is in the best position of all of the major rail systems we're concerned about to implement this life saving technology and there are real and important questions about what happened here and why. but among them is not some issue of amtrak lagging behind other systems in its implementation ptc. >> that's correct, ahead of everyone else. >> isn't it therefore beside the point to talk about what amtrak keeps doing with respect to the federal funding, the point is that the federal funding is absolutely critical for the other systems like metro north, we know it would have been prevented by ptc. i want to thank you again for approving a billion dollar, $960 million loan to get metro north
moving faster with the installation of ptc. you worked with this closely on my legislation including the passenger rail bill with the assistance of mr. dunham and others to make explicitly clear that funding is available for all systems because money is the issue, right? >> correct. >> and of all of the people who ought to be apologizing for these accidents that keep happening because we don't have the safety systems in place, the united states congress maybe ought to be at the top of the list, wouldn't that be fair to say? >> i think that would be fair to say. >> and i think when mr. boardman comes in here who's clearly heart sick over this episode and doing everything he can and it will meet this deadline and expresses his heart felt regret, it might be nice somebody on this committee express the heart felt regret for united states congress not having its act together in this area and so many others. isn't that fair to say?
>> yes. >> thank you. and we've got 30 accidents and 69 deaths and 1200 injuries and this is the first one on amtrak because we haven't had one on amtrak in a quarter century. >> that's right. >> where the funding is most needed where most of the deaths and injuries are occurring. >> that's right. >> thank you. so much for whether funding matters for safety. i have a couple of specific questions, mr. boardman maybe you can help me out. northbound trains approach at 80 miles an hour at this junction and southbound at 110 miles an hour. they install the system where they knew they had to slow down to get to the derailment speed of 98 on the southbound side. isn't it a fact that the required speed through the corner 45 miles per hour when you slow down, you don't just slow down to a speed equal to or less than the derailment speed you go down about half of it right?
>> go down to 50-mile-per-hour speed for a safety measure from the 98. >> can you help me understand if that's the case the recommended speed going northbound even though the approach is below the derailment speed it's not recommended that you take it at 80, right? >> we've been going around that corner since the '30s in the same construct is there without -- >> at what speed should an engineer take that? >> 50 miles an hour. >> northbound. >> 50. it was just an oversight not to put the atc system there to force the reduction in speed to 50? >> no, what had happened because of the back bay incident, the entire community of safety folks, along with regulator looked at what was reasonable for us as an industry to do. what was reason was was to make sure we put in six locations a co-change, only down to 45 miles an hour and that was where ufrp
approaching at a speed that would overturn the train in the corridor. >> i see. that's what we're working on now. >> we'll close that gap. last question and couple of seconds left. can you tell us again in plain english why we don't know whether this operator was on the phone three weeks after the accident? you said it was a time zone issue? can't we just get the records? wouldn't we know whether he was on the phone. >> the engineer was very cooperative and gave us the password to his cell phone. we have all of that, we found more and more complicated issues relating to the fact that the text is on one time zone and calls on the other, it is far more my complicate d than anyone imagined. >> why be able to determine? >> yes, you can coordinate that with the number of different time sources to verify the accuracy. it's crucial to get that right. >> thank you sir, for the extraordinary work your agency does, i've seen it up close and
it's real extraordinary how professional and efficient you are. >> thank you. >> thank you, mr. chairman i want to follow up on that. after three weeks i'm very frustrated we don't have a time line today in any way, shape or form into the limit d extent we have one indicates the train depart at 9:10 and crash is at 9:21. in terms of the phone records to follow up on that, since the requirements say it should be turned off and stored do we know if the phone was turned off and stored during that 9:10 time frame. >> we know there was use of the phone on that day, may 12 kt. we don't know -- that's what we're trying to narrow down to get specifics of your question. >> i just texted back my daughter, yes,ky baby sit on
friday, 11:42. that's on my phone now. if it was in california phone, it might say 8:42 then figure it out. three weeks ago, why can't we take those 11 minutes and have a time line for the victims and their families to have that type of information? i don't understand what the hold up is. >> we had no idea it would be this complicated when we started down this path either. it's been far more complicated than any of us anticipated to not only get the records but verify -- >> was the device turned off? >> we don't -- >> if the device was turned off you could not have used it between 9:10 and 9:21. >> one of the things we'll determine in the time line is when was the device turned on and off. >> given the three hours in california, your time line would have certain limits. if you had to use the phone within certain hours, you would know whether it's possible or not -- like if my phone said
8:42, then you would know there's an issue. if it said 7:42, you would know it's not possible. i'm trying to understand why this is so my indicated. >> we found discrepancies within the carrier's own time systems where it didn't even agree with itself. we've got a lot to work out -- >> how much would it cost us to not allow an engineer to have a phone in the cabin? >> i couldn't speak to that. >> my understand sg the regulations have the railroads can implement their own string ent records. can't we way we're not allowed to have devices in the cabin period, why can't we do that today? >> i would defer on that question to ms. feinberg.
>> railroads can put that into place. >> that would not be a cost issue? >> i don't think so. >> you would feel comfortable we wouldn't three weeks later whether someone had a device and using it. >> it would make our investigation easier if we didn't have to look into it but we do -- >> if we implemented a policy that said don't have devices in there period in you need to use a device, you step out of the cabin, use it when you're stopped but it cannot physically go in there. is there an issue by why isn't that done? >> again, i have to defer to the regulators on that. >> does anyone think there would be a cost related to removing personal devices from the cabin? >> use of the devices is already prohibited. you're talking been an additional prohibition that the ntsb would investigate
compliance with that prohibition. >> would kind of spot checks to know whether or not someone is ugs their phone or texting during their time in the cabin? >> certain locomotives are equipped with cell phone detection -- >> did this cabin have that? >> i don't know the answer to that at this point. >> it seems like the no cost safety solution here is today to say don't bring them in. >> what's detectible is the signal in and out and what's not, was somebody manipulating the phone but not sending -- >> the cell phone was in the cabin that day? >> yes. >> and was it turned off or not? >> do not know the answer to that. >> does anybody know whether it was turned on or off? how can we not know that at this point? that's the regulation. if it was on that was a
regulation by -- >> i don't know if that's known. i don't know it at this moment. >> anybody here with the witnesses today know that? >> i would say that as the ntsb leads the investigation we partner and do our own investigation. there has not been a concern that we wont figure it out. it's a little complicated. >> this is something so easy to find out quickly then we could know -- this action could have been taken the day after. until we know we know there was a cell phone in there, why don't we just say you're not going to bring your cell phone in the cabin anymore. unless someone can tell me a safety concern -- my grandfather worked in the railroads for 40 years without a cell phone. i'm trying to figure out is there a cell phone issue here that you need to have it in the cabin for safety purposes?
>> the gentlelady's time expired. -- [ indiscernible ] >> no cost issues -- >> we will develop a very precise time line. >> you're recognized tore five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i want to thank all of our panelists today for your hard work. as a representative from connecticut, i have to say that the folks i represent are concerned. and we're talking about thousands of people in my district who ride the lines every day to get to work. and so it is in our shared
interest for their safety and also for the integrity of the system. i mean, we talk about numbers of deaths confidence in the system is vital. so i want to start in part with that and again extend my congratulations to you you've been exceptionally responsive and helpful and i hope the senate moves rapidly on your confirmation. there's been a lot of things that have been talked about at today's hearing and i want to make sure we're getting clarity on the record, particularly because of this issue about positive train control and lines owned by amtrak as well as the other lines that we have passengers riding on, particularly in the northeast corridor. is there anything else that is needed to get positive train control on all portions of the northeast corridor regardless of who owns the track? we know we've got funding for a commitment by amtrak to meet that but we have lines owned in
connecticut, substantially, a bit in york, up in massachusetts. is there anything else in terms of fundsing or authorities that is necessary for that? >> well in terms of funding there are funding struggles ptc. in terms of authority, we're concerned that some railroads will miss the deadline and we'll lack the authority to force them to implement interim measures that will raise the bar and safety between that moment and when they actually have ptc implemented. we asked and think that's appropriate. if the deadline is going to be missed, we want to make sure that railroads are taking steps to raise the bar in safety before they implement ptc fully. >> if you can follow up with us on the specific authority you need, i have commuter lines dropping down from danbury and waterbury through new britain, these are really important for us to check. >> we will do that. >> following up on the question
from chairman shuster and it's a similar question is there any action you need from congress to follow-up? we want to get high speed rail in. if we're getting derailments well below the acela i take from time to time is running is there additional authority that you believe you need from us to make that possible? >> i don't believe we need additional authority on the curves, amtrak has supplied us with the curves they are folkoused on. we'll go back and make sure we agree on actions moving forward on those specific curves. we are continuing to work on next steps that go beyond amtrak on curves and speed. we will have more to say on that in the coming days. going back to chairman shuster's question, could more have been done following metro north
incident? i'm not sure that comes down to authority so much as regular laters we have very few tools and the tools we have are sometimes blunt instruments. emergency order thought is incredibly narrow and can't be as broad as we want. safety advisories are recommendations and don't have to be followed. and rule making process takes years so -- >> thank you, for you, mr. boardman, i have some concern given the importance of these accidents so much emphasis being placed just on ptc. i'm looking at billions of dollars in infrastructure upgrades and in particular if you could talk about how are you going about prioritizing the bridges that are 100 years old and more that the northeast corridor runs across these bridges every single day. what if any help in addition to the additional funding which i joined my colleague and not only
seat mate but add jas enlt districts that we need more funding to address the issue of infrastructure. which is also safety. if a bridge goes down that is also a safety concern. can you talk about the prioritization --? >> certainly i think one of the most important things that occurred was in the commission that was established in the northeast of all of the states, federal government and amtrak to look at what projects need to be done and how we kneeleded to prioritize for the future. a lot of that conversation that's occurred has really identified projects that need to be done. a lot of them bridges and tunnels and the major impacts we need to get done. they have been identified in one particular case, we have ready to build the portal bridge, which would be a -- about a billion dollar project. our priority is there for these infrastructure improvements which will also improve safety.
it's in place. >> thank you. >> you're recognized for mif five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i was on the route 24 hours beforehand. i represent new york one on the east end of long island. some other members were traveling with me as well as we're here i would be remiss if i didn't offer my thoughts and prayers to the families of those whose lives were lost. those who were injured. it's a terrible tragedy that took place. i kind of wish that congress had been willing to all of the entire of congress would be willing to allow us and the families to mourn for amtrak and for the employees of amtrak everyone impacted by it. i wish there was more time dedicated towards mourning. unfortunately the next day, and i think it's pretty shameful and
disgusting, that not even 24 hours go by and we have an entire party here in congress that was blaming a potential future funding cut on an accident that happened yesterday. i mean, i've heard of spin but this is a first for me. i mean literally you wake up the next morning and instead of dedicating your day towards mourning the loss of those -- i mean families that were so greatly impacted you come onto the floor throughout these halls and you stand in front of the cameras and without saying my heart goes to the family or offering up emotional remorse, immediately you're blaming a potential future funding cut on an accident that happened yesterday. i would challenge anyone to find an example of this in history. couldn't even wait 24 hours. it started the next morning.
the engineer was obviously traveling over speed the speed limit, and that's the reason why there's an investigation. it's very important to amtrak that they finish the project of getting ptc operational specifically on the northeast corridor. i know that this body passed legislation being from the northeast and knowing how profitable the northeast corridor, acela trains are, it's good we see that money get reinvested back into the system. i have colleagues in other parts of the country who may think otherwise and that's okay. parochial in a way to my home state, my home region. i came here from new york state state legislature, served on the transportation committee. the nta which is the nation's largest mass transit system for that locality and heard metro north talked about and long island railroad. we found a way republicans and
democrats working together to try to create a second track between farmingdale for the long island railroad. there are infrastructure improvements all over the new york city metropolitan area with the involvement of people in new york city up in albany, working with the nta and unions trying to if i can out how to invest in the infrastructure. and it's also important to note the amtrak legislation passioned by the house discusses the component that allows the mta to apply for $1 billion in financing. but the investment can be made, it would be very nice if my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, when we asked it's a great idea how are you going to pay for it? i want to be part of the discussion to figure out how we can invest in our infrastructure across the country. that's what i believe is a matter of principle.
but with my final minute and getting back to you, just so i understand something, are there texts on the phone from 9:10 to 9:21. we know there is text and voice activity that day. we're trying to narrow down to specifically what time that day. >> but the phone itself like when you look at the phone and scroll through texts, it doesn't show a text from 9:10 to 9:21. >> i don't have that answer yes. we will have an answer to that. >> i understand the frustration. it seems like something that if i gives you access and you know the answer in five minutes. >> we were surprised by the complexity of it ourselves and we're experts at this. >> the entire route, i know you are, it has always of these cooperation from the cell phone companies and all of the cell phone towers and pings on
towers. for the families that the real advocacy, to try to get your answers and amtrak's efforts and all of you here for that cause the frustration on our end too is on behalf of twinlts and families who are eager. they understand when this smingsz take longer than others but maybe they don't understand why we don't have more answers as far as the engineer goes. thanks for being here. >> that is correct gentle lady -- >> thank you. i very much appreciate and support all of the efforts in the northeast corridor but i would like to shift to the mps for just a few minutes at 11:19 on june 24th 2011 a tractor-trailer driving north on u.s. 95 slammed into the side of amtrak 5 on the cal zepher line at a railroad grade crossing
outside miriam in rural nevada. the driver of the truck was at fault and been on duty for nine hours and he failed to -- the train horn and went ahead and crossed the track. the impact created a fire and killed a driver and train conductor and four passengers and injured 15 other passengers and one additional crew member. ptc wouldn't have stopped that but the investigation that was done by ntsb outlined concerns about side impacts strength requirements for passenger cars and what happens with impact when it comes from the side. if you look at the report they issued two recommendations were to develop side impact crash worthiness standards including performance validation for passenger rail cars. once the seed impact crash worthiness standards have been
developed to require that new passenger rail cars being built to this standards. i would ask you, we've had all of these studies about train to train collisions. has any research been done on these types of side collision impacts? >> yes we're doing research now on the at the ntsb rengs, we're doing research on the side impact -- >> is that it? can you give me any more information what that entails or will you be making recommendations or changing regulations. >> that research is ongoing and we can get your office a full report. apart from that we have done a tremendous amount of word on grade crossings generally which continue theed to be a problem for many years and slight uptick this year and we have a multifacetted approach generally but on side impact collisions our research is ongoing. >> if i can ask mr. boardman going back to the first question
that mr. defazio asked about buying new train cars, if this stud zi, whenever it gets done comes with the recommendation that new requirements should be made for train cars that meets some increased standards for side crashes, are we going to get any new cars? how many cars have we gotten? you look at the pictures of the cars so crashed compared to the locomotive. would you elaborate open that. >> they have a lower section and i went to that accident site. >> i think you were the assistant director at that time? >> pardon me. >> i realize you were involved in the report -- >> i was ceo for amtrak. i went out there at that time and look d at what happened. it was a double tractor-trailer. the side impact is what killed our conductor but it was really
a signal case that the back trailer came up and hit the top of the train that did the passenger death and injuries. there is a i think there would be -- i'm not an engineer, mechanical engineer, there is a huge problem at that particular location. it was a very strange crash. because there was total visibility for the truck that went into the side of the train. and if you were going to protect for that, by replacing the equipment, you would have major engineering that would have to occur and i'd have to see whether any such thing could happen. >> you disagreed with the recommendation they need to look at side -- >> no, i don't disagree with the recommendation at all. i think it would be a very difficult thing -- we can't
retrofit, so talking probably 250 of the by level type cars and 3.5 to $4 million a piece for each of those cars. it would be a substantial cost to doing that and take stretcher but what about all those old cars. what's the plan there? >> the plan right now what we did with single level cars and with the locomotives we're paying for that out of fares that we receive in the northeast corridor. on the long distance train there's no additional revenue. it is completely deficit operation and we don't have those resources to borrow money on the rift program or any other
way to replace those cars. >> that seems to me to be a problem. >> yes, ma'am. >> mr. davis. >> thank you mr. chairman and to the witnesses being here today. going back to earlier statements we made during the q and a, you mentioned there were six possibly ten if i'm doing to math right, vulnerabilities identified to what we saw in northeast corridor the northbound train going toward the curve. you mentioned these types of curves existed and have you installed co-change points at those curves and was there a cost to do so? >> if you have to go back to the back bay incident 1990 and when that occurred and they looked
what the needed to be done to protect that case. what they identified was six curves that they needed to treat. the entrance speed was greater than what the turnover speed was in the curve itself. >> correct. they put a co-change point there. on the south side there was not a need to do that because the approach speed was 80 miles an hour. therefore even if that engineer failed to slow, they wouldn't overturn. there was six places along. >> total of six? >> there is a moderate cost to do anything. >> what's the moderate cost?
>> i don't know. the automatic train control system really provides an idea whether there's something in front of you on the tracks. the way you do this co-change is you really have a bit of fiction here. you put the co-change point in. what we looked at is the change that occurred here and in that conditions that exist on the south side and we put that cochange inco co-change in what conditions or what curves meeting that condition need to be changed and
that's what we told fra we would work to do. >> i don't have a lot of time left. if you could have your staff get back to me on if you found any other amtrak corridors with the same issues and when you estimate you'll be done identifying and actually install installing cochanges on those areas identified as vulnerable. >> we would only do this on the northeast corridor. >> i have a amtrak corridors in my state of illinois. are there any other vulnerabilities there you've identified? >> you have them all over the united states. they depend on the expertise of our engineers and how the signaling system works and there are locations across the country where that occur. they depend on what we call a foreign d control point.
>> amtrak did not include the funding required and annual budget requests. this is directly from the i.g. report here. your engineering and finance departments cannot explain this. can you? >> what we saw was in that particular report in 2012 was that they were looking for us to have come to congress to specifically ask for ptc service. we identified what it would cost to beat this requirement. it's about the safety of that and not about the dollars of that. >> i'm reading the report here and it said transportation
official stated his departments purposely omitted ptc installation costs for amtrak's five-year plan and annual budget requests. that's concerning for us. thank you for being here. i yield back the balance of my time. >> thank you. >> thank you. i'm going to try to make my comments brief since i'm separating him and each one you have all for lunch. you guys and gal have been most generous with your time. i appreciate it. what i think is important in the wake of any sad day or tragedy is to go in and do the
investigation. we don't overreact in ways that would make the system less sustainable from a financial standpoint. we don't overact in ways that become so constraining so the practical effect is people say i'm walking. it's is safest of all mechanisms would be to put people in those things that you strap into it at a public fare. you're locked in but from the standpoint of practical effect you can't use your laptop or talk on phone. with that in mind it seems to me in the course of the hearing two ideas that have come out that would be dangerous in terms of overreaction to the real world tragedy that each one of you all
have had to deal with. one is this idea of seat belts. if you think about it there's a reason there's seat belts in the airplanes which is you have all kinds of vertical and horizontal considerations based on air lift well outside of the control of pilot. we have been in those thunderstorm moments where it's like oh my goodness what's happening next. that does not occur on train. what we all know is when plane crashes, wearing a seat belt or not, tragically a lot of people die. same thing with school buses. a lot of kids ride to and from schools daily and in most cases i'm aware of there aren't seat belts for those kids. i think it would have dangerous effect. i would love to hear your further thoughts on this if you don't pose seat belts as a reaction to this tragedy. my sense is it would be a step too far. this notion of moving to two men in the front of the train.
it seems to me it's an added financial burden to the amtrak system which is already straining to the tune of more than a billion dollars a year in terms of subsidy and other. if you look at the whole notion of moving toward positive train control the idea is to take care of that possibility of human error which wouldn't be eliminated if you do mover to two men system up front. move to this notion of inward facing cameras. i think that can watch out for human error but i think that would be a step too far as well. i apologize. it was my sister. any thoughts on either one of those steps too far? she's relentless. >> we are moving ahead with
inward facing cameras. to be clear this is something my predecessor was moving ahead with prior to his departure. they've been unable to come to a conclusion. we told them last week we were talking it out of the rsac and moving ahead. >> you agree with two men in the front or seat belts? >> the need to harden the seats in order to put seat belts in would be more dangerous to passengers than belting passengers in. if the ntsb feels differently, we're start our engagement and conversations can them. that's my understanding of why seat belts may not be the best move on the train because it would make people more dangerous. on two person crews --
>> i go back to marketability as well. often times when i travel in new york, the reality is people are up and moving and that's part of why you take the train as posed to getting on the airplane. you can get on the phone or have a small group meeting and you take that out i think you'll lose market share that must further relative to plane travel. the other one, i'm sorry. >> on two person crews that's something we have been taking a look at. it's less relevant in passenger service because it's multiple people on the crew. >> i hear my chairman's ever so gentle tap, tap, tap. i get the message, sir.
>> i'd like to thank the gentleman for being expedient and so much time. >> thank you, mr. chairman. last but not least, hopefully. thank you witnesses for your time and efforts as we try to reach answers to this great tragedy that occurred in northeast corridor. it's been interesting to listen to some of these lines of questioning. it's hard for he tome to imagine why it's so complicated to get the answer to whether the engineer was utilizing a cell phone at the time of the crash. seems like it should be a simple answer, simple endevour to find out if as mrs. comstock in her line of questioning, during this period of time did he text? his he use his phone?
it should be there. hard to figure out why it's not true. there was a news report that said amtrak 188 had a fist sized area of severe damage on its wind shield consistent with that being struck by a rock or object. 20 minutes before the crash a regional commuter train in the same area had to stop service after the window was hit by an object. finally also around the same time amtrak 2173 was also struck by an object while traveling southbound in the very same area. there's an old saying that once is an accident. twice is a coincidence and three times is a pattern. do you think that that applies here? >> we are confident that the train left the station without
any wind shield damage. we are confident the damage occurred after leaving the station. we don't know whether it occurred before the accident or after the accident. we know it was not a weapon fired. the fbi helped us determine that. we know that rocks were thrown at wind shields all the time and it cracks the wind shield. that that's way it could be damage but it would be post-damage. >> there's no finding of any individual or individuals, culprits responsible for the damage done to the other two trains as well? have we found out anything in that regard? >> no, we do not have any information in that regard. >> would anybody else any other panelists like to address that possibility of damage to the wind shield.
>> i think we have time to time have people throw rocks at our trains but what's the specific question, sir, in terms of -- >> well, i have family that lives in manhattan. they ride this train. i've ridden the train several times along the same corridor. i've remarked to myself and to others that there's certainly a lot of availability, possibility of vandalism some pitching something over onto train or firing a weapon or whatever. i just wonder if there's been any, besides the investigation that's ongoing now is therefully addressing of this possibility by ntsb or any of the other of your agencies. >> the way we have been addressing a particular area
that we have difficulty including this one, is with our amtrak police department and the partnerships we have with the police departments along the way. as we been there we're looking to see whether those rocks might have been, might have come from and anywhere else that we have that kind of difficulty on the corridor we do have an investigation that goes into see if we can find the when and the where and who that might be tossing rocks. it's generally an immature person, some kind of kids or something that are doing that. it's not just the trains. it's the buses, cars, the other kinds of conveyances as well. >> i yield back. thank you very much. >> gentleman yields back. >> thank you. what time is it? >> 1:06.
>> i got 1:06. that has 1:05. does seconds matter in a train going 100 miles an hour? >> very crucial, yes. >> my presumption correct me if i'm wrong at this point as we speak you have some general knowledge of what occurred with that cell phone? is that a fair assumption or have you not looked at it? >> yes, we have looked at it. >> you are dotting your i's and crossing your t's before you make a statement? >> yes. we're not going to be hurried into an answer. >> is that the normal course? >> yes. we look at cell phones all the time. we're seeing it so frequently. >> i appreciate that. again, like everyone else i'm frustrated the cell phone thing is not settled yet. i presume you have some general information about what's
happened but been reluctant about saying what's happened because you're dotting your i's and crossing your t's now. i hope it's soon. i assume it will be. on seat belts you're not as old as i am. when i was a kid, we didn't have to seat belts in the car. we had them but i'm not sure if we had them. i take it back. i used to be thrown in the back of the station wagon and we would run in the back until my mother and father made the classic threat, sit down and shut up. every kid my age heard that yet we put seat belts in cars. you restricted my freedom. now i can't run around in the car. you restricted it on the plane. i can still get up, go to the toilet and talk to my friends in
the back. i understand the structure of current trains may not make it much. i get that. git i get it may take us 5, 10 15 years that it may take us get to the point. i presume they do help because the automobile industry and airplane industry has instituted them. i know some people don't wear them. i'm not perfect at it. i didn't start wearing my seat belt until i started screaming at them to put it on or i would get arrested. i realized what a hypocrite i was. it's better for me. i get that. i'm not suggesting we need to put seat belts in the train now but to pretend that seat belts in train will restrict people's freedom and drive the ridership down is absurd. i would simply encourage you, if it's a safety issue, if seat
belt belts can save lives we should start planning on the implementation of them. at some point, you're going to order some new trains. when you do maybe you can implement seat belts. i ask you to include in the record materials from the fcc which shows what the fcc has done to help, i won't say help but help or hinder during towards positive train control. >> so observed. >> i yield back. >> if mr. sanford were here he would take note. obviously, there's a lot of frustration in this committee. a lot of tension to the lack of answers. it's been three weeks now. it's been all over the media and rightly so.
loss of life. there are americans that are still looking for answers. i know you'll continue to do your research, but you have now come before the entire transportation committee of congress to come here and not have cell phone information whether the cell phone was on or off, operable, to not understand what the records are after three weeks, to not have an idea whether there was mechanical failure when you have train, brand new seaman's train but in service less than a year ago and we can't do the autopsy on the train.
we got to have some facts on whether there was an operator error that created a malfunction. there's very few answers three weeks after one of the most horrific crashes our nation has ever seen. we need to make a determination whether or not this body will have another hearing several weeks from now. a unanimous consent that the record is open and witnesses provide answers to our questions for the record within 15 days of today's hearing. without objection, so ordered. i'd like to thank each of our witnesses for being here today.
the hill has been following another infrastructure and travel related story. melvin carraway has been removed from office after agents failed to find fake explosives and weapons in tests at almost all of america's busiest airports. they failed 67 of 70 tests where agents tried to pass through security while carrying fake prohibited agents. jay jason said he's been reassigned to serve in another area of the dhs. summer travelers are faced with rail accidents. the tsa's recent failure to find the fake bombs at security
crumbling bridges and air bag recalls. we'll have hearing on that at 2:00 eastern. we'd like to know how safe you feel. got a question up on facebook at facebook.com/cspan. you can join the conversation with other viewers there or send us a tweet. she said i don't think we need the tsa. if they miss 95% of the threats obviously we don't have much to worry about.
nicholas says it's shame u.s. doesn't have much better infrastructure. transportation is efficient in other countries. we're looking forward to reading your remarks at facebook.com/cspan. another transportation related hearing coming up at 2:00 p.m. hearing with that hearing on the takata airbag recall. i've coverage here on c-span3. that gets under way at 2:00 p.m. eastern. this weekend the c-span's city tour has pat nered with time warner cable to learn about the literary life of lincoln nebraska.
>> it's one of the most important writers of the 20th century. she was given almost every literary award possible in her lifetime before she died except for the nobel prize. she was known for some of her masterpieces masterpieces. the professor's house. loss lady and many others. in 1943 she made a will which had a few restrictions in it. one of which she didn't have letters to be published. she said she left it to the seoul control of her executors to decide. they believe as educational organizations that she belongsheritage
and we ought to know more about her. >> solomon butcher was a paragrapher out in western nebraska. he took photos from about 1886 until early 1890s of homesteaders and sought houses and able to tell the story of this important development in american history. i'm going to show you one of my favorite images. it's a photograph. it is four sisters who each took a homestead claim in custer county. it was the first time that women could own land on their home. it didn't belong to their husbands. it doesn't belong to their fathers. single women could own their own
land. that was really big deal with the homestead act. each sister, each of the sisters took a homestead. they each built a small house on the homestead which was part of the homestead act. they would take turns staying in each other's house and working each other's barn. the sisters really pulled together together. >> watch all of our shows from lincoln. a statement from today's washington journal featuring a discussion on the nsa surveillance program. the latest on the fight against isis and iraq and syria and foreign policy challenges.
>> jerry connolly joining us. good morning. >> good morning. good to be with you. >> the front page of usa saying there's going to be a meeting in paris between the united states and allies to talk about what to do about isis. tell us a little bit about your current thoughts and strategy concerning ie concerning isil and what do you think about the plan being executed now. >> one of the fundamental weaknesses we have seen with respect to isil is the weakness of the iraqi military. i think somebody has to account fsh that. the fact they kind of melt away all too often in the face of any kind of military onslaught by isil is very troubling. we don't have the option of
going in militarily ourselves and or with our allies. air attacks alone have not sufficed to deter or roll back the threat. rethinking what the strategy needs to be and how best we can play a role in a responding is long overdue. >> how do you think you changed the mentality of the security forces that become more aggressive in their efforts? >> you know, i wish i had an easy answer to that. if i did, i would be high paid military consultant for the pentagon. i don't think we have any answers for that. it's such a function of trying to create an efficient military that promotes from within merit as opposed to who you know. it is a question of sunni and
the willingness to fight on behalf of the other. it's the whole question of how does one identify with nation hood in the newer iraq if you will. how do you make sure the government is functional and isn't engage in one battle. i think those are all huge factors. >> what kind of resources have we given to training the fighters and who overseas that to make sure we don't see the results we're seeing. >> you got to remember, one of the faithful decisions made early on after the invasion of
iraq was by then paul brimmer who was the american major general on the scene at the time and made two very faithful and very wrong decisions. one was to essentially demilitaryize the military meaning that you had hundreds of thousands of iraqis unemployed and unarmed who are now unhappy about the invasion and it's to say that anyone a member of the party could not serve in the government. by doing those two things we created a huge discontent and that helped fuel an insurgency that has morphed into isil today. we're trying to recover from those very bad decisions made
during the bush administration by the first american czar on the scene. >> here on the lines if you want to talk to our guest. virginia, a member of the foreign affairs committee joining us. as far as the administration is concerned when it comes to isil is it being aggressive enough in taking this issue and moving forward and coming up with a strategy? >> i don't know whether one can answer the question of are theying with aggressive enough. i will say that many of the critics of this president and his administration and policy in syria and iraq frankly if we followed their advice, isil would be stronger and better equipped today. we don't have an easy set of choices in this front in the middle east. who is the enemy?
who is it we're trying to deter? who wears the white hat? how do you separate the white hats from the black hats? if it's that simple, great. a lot a led into isil. i don't think we have a lot of good options. i think those here who suggestizesuggest ize otherwise are doing a disservice. >> first call comes from robert. democrat's line.
good morning. >> caller: good morning. >> good morning. >> caller: let me say i was a long time democrat and i still somewhat support their ideology but isis, as a former muslim in america, former member of the nation of islam, isis is a mind set. these hulk republicans who think you can blow up people who want to die any way, there's no way you'll destroy a people who think they are going to paradise by killing. in islam itself you're not to be an aggressor. those who claim to be burning people up and chopping heads off, that's not representative of an islam nor so is kkk representative of christianity. once you weed out and find out what true muslims are just like true christians.
this has been a so-called christian country and racism has been the order of the day for america. all people are not created equal. we're created equally. isis cannot be weeded out by being violent. you have to have a strategy that will talk to people and engage people and have muslims from this country that are peaceful that could bring peace. there's no way you be bomb people who believe they are going to heaven just by being violent, sir. thank you very much. you have a blessed day. >> thank you. i don't know whether a military response alone the isis will suffice. you have to have a functioning government that's credible.
i think that's a real problem in iraq and syria. there's also the fact you have a large sunni population that feels since the overthrow of hussein in iraq that its interests are sacrificed in favor of somebody else. those politics and those tensions are very real. we need a government in baghdad that reaches out and doesn't, isn't perceived to be favoring shia over sunni. you're right to say we have to look beyond just a military response which has limited affect and i don't think is
necessarily the ultimate solution of trying to deter the threat isis represents. >> do we have any political avie advisors from the u.s. having more of that sunni reputation? >> there's no pressure this government has been pressured to try to be more inclusive. there's some hopes this government will do a lot better than the one replaced but time will tell. i think it's going to be hard to overcome. we're seeing the consequences on the ground. >> here is darren from washington, d.c. you're next. good ahead. >> caller: good morning. thanks for taking my call. i love c-span. it helps me become more
politically astute. it's great. i know you're from virginia. i live in d.c. i don't know much about your district and where you are. i want to make a comment on the struggle in iraq. i don't know what we're going to do because it's kind of too late. iraq and iran were adversaries for over a year. they fought a war for the whole of the 1980s and were great counterbalance to each other. we ju went this there and messed it all up. not saying that hussein was some great guy. he was a dictator. there's all these other
countries that even worse. they have the technology to just be overreaching to all of their people. the government is all over you. we consider china our friends and partners and we just went in there and tore iraq apart. it just messed everything up. i don't know where we go from here. we just opened pandora's box.
we have conflicts all over the world. i don't know what to do. >> we'll let our guest respond to the call. i don't know that we live in a world that's more conflicted than previous general rags. access to really dangerous weapons of mass destruction continue to grow for terrorists would be bad guys. we have to be ever individualvigilant.
i do think it's difficult to understand sometimes we're muslim bound. it doesn't mean we control all events or the outcomes. sometimes we don't have much leverage. that's a very hard proposition for us to accept. we bought to be able to go in and clean something up or fix it or make sure it turns out our way. i think that's part of the frustration we're encountering in the conflicts. we can't separate good guys from bad guys. we don't really control a lot. that's hard thing for us to accept. it's a frustrating thing. i think it fuels some of the criticism coming from those who want a more robust policy. what is that policy. if we adopted it a year or two ago, would that given what we
know today wouldn't have have strengthened in fact, very wrong elements. >> do you think the american public is ready for that kind of length in. >> i think we are. i'm old enough. you're old enough to remember the cold war. that was over half a century of vigilance and investments and going toe to toe with very clearly defined adversary. ultimately we prevailed. ultimately that worked.
these were pivotal moments in defining that whole dialectic. >> here is michael on our democrat's line. >> caller: good morning. i wish you were my congressman. way back in '03 when we were going to war with iraq. i stood up and told my class what would happen in iraq. it just seems like that these people are so smart and they were so gifted that they just
different thoughts buried in your question. i think some advocates for that invasion misused intelligence and in some cases significantly distorted intelligence to make their case. arguing for creating the rational rationale for the invasion. secondly, we didn't prepare properly. if you're going to make that
kind of invasion frankly, the then secretary defense continuely pressed military planners to ratchet down the number of troops required. huge looting occurring while u.s. troops were powerless to really prevent it eroding enormous confidence by the broad iraqi in our ability to maintain order. we're paying a high price for flawed decision in the previous administration that still has
ramify ramifications today. that and afghanistan are the two longest wars in history. it's not at all clear that we have no clear gains that were made. not an isolation. in fact, probably more on the hawker side of my own party. i don't think we had them in the original invasion of iraq. >> the caller brought up senator rand paul and says the senates debate the freedom act. where did you stand on the freedom act? >> i supported it. i did as a contrast and
process to protect the country and its security. none of us want to see something terrible happen because it fell through the cracks because we didn't give ourselves the ability to monitor. i don't accept that proposition at all as an american and an elected official. i don't think anybody should have to. >> if the senate amends it, what happens? >> it's the other body's per
perogative to amend any bill that is sent over. >> have you heard anything that gives you concern it might erode it? >> talk is one thing. action is another especially when it comes to the u.s. senate. i'll wait the see what they produce before we pass judgment. >> because we had certain aspects of the patriot act lapse because of sunday with reless safer because of that? >> well, the official word is that it took eight hours to shut that down and the operations of that part of the collection process are frozen.
in real affect i have to believe that the agency is engaged can see what i can see, what you can see which is it's in process. the senate is about to act and somehow just dismantsling it and going away assuming there will be no reauthorization at all highlighted it. it's not too worried about that. if the senate fails to act i think it does create a whole that will need to be addressed. >> representative jerry connolly our guest. you heard his thoughts on the nsa act. richard from massachusetts. independent line. >> caller: we helped train them. we still send them weapons.
until you people start telling the truth to american people and the american people get their heads out of their butts and pay attention to what our government is going to us. have a flies day. >> i don't know that the united states is attempting to destabilize every country in the middle east region from our protected green zone in baghdad. i think most of us feel we're kind of operating in a lot of shadows.
look at egypt and libya and syria and iraq. i think it's pretty self-evident if the united states could control events the current situation was a lot different. i don't think the conspiracy theory in some grand scheme to control outcomes especially on the point you're making and it's all about oil. you have to remember that right now the united states energy production is rivaling that of the world's largest producer saudi arabia. we will soon exceed saudi production if current trends are
sustained. we're goingbeginning to look at exporting gas and oil because we have so much supply here that we're producing. that is because of fracking and other techniques. it's easier to get less expensive to develop and as a result the u.s. energy dependence on the middle east has plummeted. we really aren't that dependent on them anymore. our desire, our appetite for oil that you suggest is a lot less today than before.
>> caller: i just to keep it short we haven't done a good job of nation building since the days of i think most people would agree with that point. >> yeah. >> caller: i'm a desert storm veteran and in my mind a veteran of the current conflict. we know first hand what types of things we engage in when we go overseas. what i'd like to see is a congress that stops the bickering across the aisle. it's like we have one party with two factions. we need to stop with the argument blaming everything on this or that person and pull together and let's take some
divisive action before it's too late. let's protect the american people. words like freedom choice, democracy, they evoke a power of possibility to far exceed benefit they could entail. we need to see action and i know it's hard for you guys but we need you to pull together before it's too late. >> thank you eric. thank you for your service and that of your son. i have a nephew from massachusetts in national guard service. i think two tours this iraq and one in afghanistan. thank you for your service. we need to separate a few things here. the constitution was by design something that created an arena in our government. that's creative element because
out of that clash of ideas and agendas and values comes action. there's nothing wrong with debate and the fact that the differences are sharply contrasted. the institution envisions that and encourages that in a healthy democracy. what leads to action is what has broken down. the political system increasingly rewards be perpetual debate and punishes subsequent action. the old compromise of how action happens in our system has almost become a four letter word. we have to repair that piece while absolutely celebrating the other piece. i think you're right to be frustrated with the latter but we shouldn't confuse the one
with the other. one actually sometimes gets people alarmed but vigorous debate is a good thing and generally shows a healthy democracy. you don't have that kind of vigorous you don't have that vigorous debate in some countries because it's not allowed. it can get you in trouble. doesn't get you trouble here at all. after the debate, what next? how can we come together and have action? we were talking about the usa freedom act earlier. the fact you get 338 votes for a bill in the house of representatives tells you a lot about active, vigorous debate. we did come together. the vote in the senate will be equally substantial. we don't always get it right, and certainly the process, i think, has been badly broken for all too long here in washington but i'm committed to trying to find common ground where and when we can. and working to make that
successful. >> 202-748-8001 for republicans. 202-847- 202-748-8000 for democrats. 202-748-8002 for independents. there's a story in this morning's "new york times" looking at iran and the nuclear deal being negotiated. with one month left before deadline to complete a deal international inspectors reported that teheran's stockpile increased 20% over the last 18 months of negotiations undercutting the obama administration's contention that iranian program had been frozen over that period. your thoughts on the negotiations going forward? i read that, too, and i need to know more about that. if that is accurate it's troubling. it suggests iran is finding ways or trying to find ways to
circumvent the agreement we have in place. putting that aside for a minute the agreement or the framework of the agreement, as far as we know it, is, i think frankly, something that achieves many of the goals we'd like. all of us would prefer iran to completely disarm completely stop any nuclear development of any kind, and become a peaceful player in the region. i don't think we're going to achieve those goals. when we look at this agreement, we have to also say to ourselves, in lieu of what? candidly, many of the critics of the agreement, which many experts believe, frankly is a lot more robust and achieves a lot more by way of roll back and freezing of the enrichment activities in iran than had here
hereto for been expected. if you don't like that answer, the only answer is a military one. or what our military call the kinetic option. that is fraught with huge consequences. i believe, as nobody is prepared to invade iran, a military strike to try to take out nuclear capability will achieve only partial success. no matter what they do. and will guarantee an accelerated run to nuclear development. that will be iiranian reaction. nothing on the political consequences throughout the region. we don't know what we're going to set off when we do that. this is not like other targeted discreet strikes in the past, at syria and iraq.
you think we need-- i think we need to pursue the negotiations, make them as rigorous and strict as possible. evaluation and inspection will be the key to success. we have to have unlimited access to inspect at any random time. if that kind of inspection regime is in place, then we can be fairly assured that the life of the agreement that the iranians, we're catching them if they are cheating. and that bad things get rolled back. i really think that's a much preferred option to the u.s. and its allies going in militarily. one more point about this. we sometimes in our rhetoric here in washington talk as if we're the only actor that controls sanctions. but actually, we have allies that we've brought along remarkably including russia in putting some fairly strict
sanctions on iran which now iran is agreeing to sit at the table for the first time. we have to keep that coalition in place. if we do something unilaterally or if we walk away from our own dogue negotiations, can we keep china, germany, russia united kingdom and france at the table with us? will they continue to coordinate with us on a sanctions regime that has been very tough? i think we have to keep that very much in mind. our actions also have consequences, not just with respect to iran, but with respect to our allies and even our adversaryies who are cooperating in this endeavor. that's a very important piece here that often gets missed when we're talking about it here in the nation's capital. >> here is jerry from virginia. independent line. go ahead. >> hi, representative connolly. >> good morning. >> caller: i'm talking about the
patriot act and the new vote on the freedom act. with the goal of the constitution and the bill of rights designed to guarantee freedoms and protections while limiting power of the government into our personal lives, with agencies like the cia, the dia, the fbi why do we need to collect every person's data? why can't we just do specific warrants for specific people instead of collecting everyone's data? don't you think we'd still have the power to chase down the bad guys using specific warrants instead of collecting everybody's data everyone's e-mails and all of that stuff? >> well one of the reasons i voted against the permanent reauthorization of the patriot act is precisely the point you make. i felt there was overreach. there was a lack of justification for the mass bulk data being collected.
no matter what people say, once you have access to that data, somebody somewhere is going to misuse it. we do need to protect people's privacy and right to privacy. it's a balancing act, especially after 9/11. we know the threat to america is not hypothetical. it's real. we don't want to revisit that tragedy. we want to do everything in our power to prevent that from occurring. that requires a fairly substantial investment in intelligence gathering and in strategies to deter terrorist activity. so that balancing act, i think, we did a pretty good job of in the usa freedom act, as opposed to the patriot act itself. that's why it passed overwhelmingly and why i was
confident to pass it. it controls the bulk collection of data you referred to. it creates new rules of the road that limits the government's ability to access it and to use it once it does access it. and gives us more transparency as a public to look at decisions made by fisa judges federal judges who review these requests, which we dbtidn't have before. i think those protections can help us as we move forward. >> judy, you're up next. >> caller: hi. i called in initially to agree with congressman connolly, and i've now disagreed. i think the american public and the republicans need to grow up. we are facing an unprecedented threat. i don't think the kind of stuff they're collecting can really be used against anybody. do people realize how many other
types can hook into everything you post on facebook or on twitter to use it against you? get your social security number online. get your bank information. you know, there are thieves out there. we just have to adopt a thing where anything collected with only be used in regard to terrorism, not if some fat cat is calling his lawyer and saying how can i get around this irs law or something? people need to grow up and see that we are facing monsters and nut cases. at some point, they buy a throw away phone like track phone at family dollar. we have another thing to jump on. the people who are against us need to have terrorists blow up their house. they really are not looking at what we're facing. i think talking with iran is
better than not talking with iran. i'm getting very, very angry at republicans. their hallmark was always, being a strong america and fighting war is being against terrorism. but they're doing somersaults to get out from under supporting our commander in chief at his job, which is to keep us safe. >> you've managed to touch on a lot of subjects there. i certainly agree with you, that it's better to talk to iran than not. disengagement, silence unremitting hostility for 30 plus years, not a particularly productive set of policies. i mean in the cold war we talked about it earlier in this interview, the history of the cold war the united states recognized the soviet union. had