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Letter to Daniel K. Inouye, Thad Cochran, Harold Rogers, Norman D. Dicks - Members of House and Senate Appropriations Committee

Letter

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Today, Senators Joe Lieberman and Richard Blumenthal, along with Representatives John Larson, Rosa DeLauro, Joe Courtney, Chris Murphy, and Jim Himes sent a letter to the leadership of the Senate and House Appropriations Committees urging the preservation of disaster relief funds.

Members of the delegation requested in the letter that the FY 2012 Minibus Conference Report include the $3.176 billion for disaster relief that was provided for in the three bills passed by the Senate, including $1.9 billion for the Federal Highway Administration Emergency Relief program. Many disaster funds are completely depleted following Hurricane Irene, and have a backlog of claims that currently cannot be paid out. The preservation of these funding levels will allow Connecticut to apply for funds to help recover fully from the winter storm.

The text of the letter is below:

November 9, 2011

The Honorable Daniel K. Inouye
Chairman
Senate Appropriations Committee
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Thad Cochran
Vice Chairman
Senate Appropriations Committee
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Harold Rogers
Chairman
House Appropriations Committee
Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Norman D. Dicks
Ranking Member
House Appropriations Committee
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Chairman Inouye, Vice Chairman Cochran, Chairman Rogers and Ranking Member Dicks:

As you work to finalize the Fiscal Year 2012 "Minibus" consisting of the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bill, the Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations bill and the Agricultural, Rural Development and Food and Drug Administration Appropriations bill, we are writing to respectfully request that the FY 2012 Minibus Conference Report include the $3.176 billion for disaster relief that was included in the three bills passed in the Senate. This includes $500 million for the Economic Development Administration, $1.9 billion for the Federal Highway Administration Emergency Relief program, $400 million for Community Development Block Grants and $376 million for three programs within the Department of Agriculture.

For Connecticut, this year has been an extremely active and destructive year, with natural disasters resulting in loss of life and tremendous property and economic damage. Coming on the heels of torrential flooding and widespread power outages when Hurricane Irene struck the east coast in August, Connecticut was just hit by a historic October winter storm. Up to twenty inches of snow fell in parts of the state, causing trees to fall, tearing down electrical lines, and blocking roads for repair crews and emergency vehicles. The Connecticut Department of Transportation estimates that the number of downed trees affecting roads has resulted in more than five times the damage caused by Tropical Storm Irene. At one point, nearly half of the state had lost electricity, leaving hundreds of thousands vulnerable to freezing temperatures, and eleven days later, many residents remain in the dark.

The Senate, recognizing the severity of the disasters that have struck our country this year, provided funding for disaster relief programs at the Economic Development Administration, the Federal Highway Administration, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Agriculture. These programs will help rebuild economies, repair damaged transportation systems, offer financial support to local governments facing steep cleanup costs, and help farmers and rural areas recover.

Natural disasters have caused widespread hardship for residents, businesses, farmers and local governments across our state that will need help as they work to rebuild. Congress has a responsibility to provide the support they deserve and we therefore respectfully request that the FY 2012 Minibus Conference Report reflect the Senate's disaster relief efforts and include $3.175 billion for disaster relief programs for the programs listed above.

Additionally, if appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security are included in this "minibus', we would like to express our strong support for providing adequate funding to fully meet FY 12 requirements for the Disaster Relief Fund. The Disaster Relief Fund provides vitally important financial assistance to State and local governments and individuals when a disaster strikes and we must ensure disaster survivors receive timely payments of eligible disaster expenses.

Thank you for considering this request. We look forward to working with you.

Sincerely,

Joseph I. Lieberman
United States Senator

Richard Blumenthal
United States Senator

John B. Larson
Member of Congress

Rosa DeLauro
Member of Congress

Joe Courtney
Member of Congress

Christopher S. Murphy
Member of Congress

Jim Himes
Member of Congress


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