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Public Statements

MSNBC "Hardball with Chris Matthews" - Transcript

Interview

By:
Date:
Location: Unknown

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Joining me now is New York Congressman Steve Israel. He`s congressman from
New York who represents areas hard hit by superstorm Sandy.
Steve, thank you so much, Congressman, for coming on.

REP. STEVE ISRAEL (D), NEW YORK: Sure, Chris.

MATTHEWS: You`re a partisan Democrat, fair enough.
But let`s talk about this issue as a national thing. Why is New York,
which I`ve always thought got great media coverage, because, you know, when
you have a baseball star in New York, you know, you got Reggie Jackson,
somebody like that, Mickey Mantle, they`re national figures. They`re just
huge.
But yet this time, I do think that the media is undercut. I`m as guilty as
anybody for not seeing what`s right in front of our eyes and for some
reason, it hasn`t gotten the pictures on TV as much as, you know, Katrina
did. I`ve learned on the ground what it`s like. There are some pictures
we`re showing now and it ain`t going away.
This is a horror for many months, Point Pleasant, New Jersey. This is
going on and on for the people in these houses.

ISRAEL: Well, look, I don`t -- I do not believe that this is anti-New
York, Chris. I believe that you now have a group of members of Congress
who are fairly new who are anti-government. They fundamentally and
philosophically do not believe that when a disaster strikes --

MATTHEWS: Yes.

ISRAEL: -- that is the obligation of the federal government to help.
Look, I`m consciously optimistic --

MATTHEWS: When does the federal government have an obligation to help?

ISRAEL: Well, they don`t believe that the federal government ever has an
obligation to help and, you know, this Tea Party caucus has become a real
problem.
My constituents are not interested in right or left. They`re not
interested in who is to blame. They just want it fixed.
Now, I think we`re going to get this done. I`m cautiously optimistic. I`m
optimistic because the Democrats will put it over the top. We will provide
the votes to put over the top.
I`m cautious because just a couple hours ago, on a modest bill supported by
the House Republican leadership for $11 billion, nearly one-half of the
Republican caucus voted against even that. We need to put the politics
aside and just get this done and do the right thing.

MATTHEWS: OK. Tell us about the human aspect in your district. You know
the people that come to you for help. What`s it like up there in your
district in New York?

ISRAEL: Well, look, it was devastating. It continues to be very
challenging. And my congressional district, virtually my entire district
looked like North Korea. It was plunged into the darkness, no power, no
lights, very, very difficult.
In the coastal areas of my district, people were just devastated. They
lost everything. We`re now about 80 days since the storm struck. I think
we`re an hour away from finally being able to say to those people, we`ve
put the politics aside, we`re doing the right thing.
It`s bad enough to be devastated by a weather storm. It`s unacceptable to
be devastated by a political storm.

MATTHEWS: We`re looking at pictures of Breezy Point in New York. It`s
unbelievable.

ISRAEL: Breezy point -- I have never seen anything like it and I was in
Louisiana after Katrina. I saw it. The difference was after Katrina,
everybody helped.
For the reasons I just mentioned, after this storm, after superstorm Sandy,
it became a political debate. Just not right.

MATTHEWS: Well, Breezy Point Fund is a good organization. There`s also in
the Rockaways organizations like St. Francis de Sales Church and St.
Camilla`s. On the ground, there`s some really, really good people doing
some wonderful stuff but it`s a macro problem, as you know.
Congressman, good luck tonight on your vote.

ISRAEL: We need Congress to be as good as those people have been tonight.

MATTHEWS: Well, that`s the standard. Thank you, sir. I`m thrilled at
that standard, by the way, because it`s real.

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