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Public Statements

Disaster Relief Appropriations Act, 2013

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. BLUMENAUER. I appreciate the gentleman's courtesy.

My friend from Georgia completely misses the point. Mr. Holt pointed out that this being able to process this ground-based information is important to being able to fully utilize the information from the polar satellite. The last Congress behaved recklessly, candidly, in terms of jeopardizing the flow of this information. It was not treated appropriately in terms of the budget.

I think that this is an opportunity to accelerate in a small way something that is an emergency, tell the people who have been faced with a chain of natural disasters and storms where we have been able to refine our predictions. We can't stop the weather, but we can save lives, and this will get us back on track a little bit.

I cannot imagine a more misguided offset. If anything, we should be accelerating this work more. I strongly urge its rejection.

The Acting CHAIR. The question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from Georgia (Mr. Broun).

The question was taken; and the Acting Chair announced that the noes appeared to have it.

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Mr. BLUMENAUER. Madam Chair, I rise in support of this amendment.

I must acknowledge the collaboration and support of my good friend and the cosponsor of the amendment, Mr. Campbell from California.

The amendment is a simple clarification to ensure that the Frelinghuysen amendment doesn't put taxpayers on the hook for 100 percent of the cost of projects that are unrelated to Hurricane Sandy.

The amendment waives the standard local cost-share for ongoing construction projects. This applies to beach renourishment projects, which are typically cost-shared at a 65 percent Federal and 35 percent local share.

While the waiving of this local cost-share for this type of project is unprecedented, I understand that for our friends in New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut, Hurricane Sandy was also unprecedented.

Our amendment does not change the language with respect to repairing the beaches damaged by Hurricane Sandy, but unfortunately the language could be interpreted to also waive local cost-share for future periodic beach replenishment unrelated to any damage caused by Hurricane Sandy. These typically can take up to over a 50-year period and can cost tens of millions of dollars. I'm confident that is not what was intended by the amendment as it was offered. But the amendment is necessary to make sure that that's not how it's interpreted at some point in the future.

Madam Chair, my heart goes out to the communities in the Northeast that have been devastated by Hurricane Sandy. I have strongly supported the efforts of the people in the region to step forward and be fully compensated to be able to have a robust package. I'm sorry that it's delayed, and I commend the leadership that has been displayed on both sides of the aisle.

I strongly support having the Federal Government provide assistance for people not only to recover, but to rebuild in a way that is stronger and safer. But it does not make sense to use this legislation to change standard, non-Federal cost-share procedures for projects unrelated to Hurricane Sandy. Doing so, I think, would be fiscally irresponsible, and it decrease local communities' involvement and investment in local projects that primarily benefit them and I'm afraid might be a reason for opposition for legislation that I hope passes.

With that, I reserve the balance of my time.

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