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Public Statements

Expressing Condolences and Support for Assistance to Victims of Earthquake and Tsunamis that Occurred on Dec. 26, 2004, in South and Southeast Asia

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC


EXPRESSING CONDOLENCES AND SUPPORT FOR ASSISTANCE TO VICTIMS OF EARTHQUAKE AND TSUNAMIS THAT OCCURRED ON DECEMBER 26, 2004, IN SOUTH AND SOUTHEAST ASIA -- (House of Representatives - January 04, 2005)

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Mr. PALLONE. Mr. Speaker, let me also thank the chairman and the ranking member for putting forth House Resolution 12, of which I am a cosponsor, which I do think is very significant in light of what we have witnessed in the aftermath of the tsunami over the last 10 days.

I want to say, first of all, that this resolution as we know talks about a number of things that we need to do and that to some extent we have already done. One is to provide humanitarian assistance. I know the President has pledged $350 million, which may seem like a lot, but I frankly think that we probably will end up needing significantly more in terms of humanitarian assistance. In addition to that, the gentleman from California (Mr. Lantos) mentioned long-term reconstruction, development assistance because we must remember that many of the people no longer have a means of livelihood, fishermen who no longer have their fishing boats, farmers whose land may be salted and have no longer the ability to farm. We have to think in terms of long-term reconstruction and development aid.

And finally what I call the early warning system. There has been a lot of discussion and I think there is a need to expand the tsunami early warning system that exists in the Pacific not only to the Indian Ocean but also possibly to the Atlantic Ocean and throughout the world. We know that this can be done fairly inexpensively. We are talking about maybe 5 to $10 million for the Atlantic, maybe $20 million at the most for the Indian Ocean. I think this has to be part of our effort to make sure that this event never occurs again.

I just also wanted to say I was, of course, disappointed with the early stages of the President's response, but when he said that he wanted now to provide all appropriate assistance, I certainly take him at his word and I appreciate the fact that now we are moving forward. He has not only provided a public element with the $350 million but sent his brother and Secretary of State Powell overseas and now we have the private element with the two former Presidents that are involved. We should be very happy with the fact that more private American assistance has been pledged than even the $350 million in government assistance that the President has promised. I know that at some point we may have to do an appropriations bill, perhaps an emergency appropriations bill to replenish the assistance that has already been out there, and I certainly know that over the next few weeks that the chairman and the ranking member and the members of the Appropriations Committee will be looking at that. I think it is very important.

The last thing that I did want to mention is the fact that in my district, as many of my colleagues have mentioned, we have a large number of Indian Americans, Sri Lankan Americans, South Asians from many of the countries that have been impacted. It is amazing to see the outpouring from these communities and from the public in general in terms of providing money, providing clothing, providing medical supplies. The outpouring that we have seen I think is really a symbol and a reality of what Americans are all about from all walks of life.

Again I want to thank my colleagues for putting this resolution together and the other commitments that I expect will be forthcoming over the next few weeks.

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