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Public Statements

Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2012

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mrs. EMERSON. Madam Chairwoman, first let me say that I deeply respect the words that all of my colleagues have talked about with regard to high-speed rail. And I understand very much the concerns that the funding for emergency flood restoration and rebuilding would come at a cost to future years of high-speed rail development, keeping in mind that this money has not been specifically obligated.

But first, let me talk about the flooding that's started in North Dakota, going all the way down to Louisiana, down the entire Missouri River system and the entire Mississippi River system. We're talking about more than one-third of the entire watershed of the United States of America. We're talking about farmers. We're talking about the people who work for the farmers. We're talking about the hardware stores and the implement dealers and all of the communities that have been devastated by flooding. And these folks have no recourse.

We're talking about billions of dollars in lost economic activity, and we're talking about the safety and the protection of people, their families, their children, and the folks who worship with them at church. If we don't have the emergency ability to make it possible for these people to regain their lives and their livelihoods, then we're talking about billions of dollars of lost economic activity for this country. And for people who say, Well, you know, it's farmland, and it's not important. We're talking about farmland. Well, guess what, people, we have the most abundant, safest food supply in the world. We pay less money than any person in any country of the world for our food policy. We pay 9 cents on the dollar. And if we don't restore the livelihoods of these people, if we don't restore our levees and our bridges and our roads and the economic activity of these communities, then we're going to be paying a whole lot more for food, and people are going to be screaming about that. But at the end of the day, isn't the government's role to protect the lives of people?

I just want to say that it wasn't an easy decision for the subcommittee to make, to be able to protect people's lives. But when we're talking about money that is unobligated, that has been returned to the Treasury, and it's that pot of money that can help people be safe, safe from water, safe from flooding so that they could be rebuilding their homes and producing a lot of economic activity--and, yes, a lot of jobs, because there is not a lot of difference between farming and hiring of people and producing and the ripple effect on the economies, and a factory. It's the same thing. It's just a little different.

So I have great respect, as I said earlier, for the arguments that my colleagues are making. But at the end of the day, I think that it's critical that people's lives and people's livelihoods be protected. We must rebuild and we must restore these levees before the next big flood comes again so we can protect our wonderful food source in the United States.

Madam Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.

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