Hurricane Sandy Relief

Floor Speech

By:  Frank LoBiondo
Date: Jan. 2, 2013
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. LoBIONDO. Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to be here today. I did not think it was going to be necessary. But the Superstorm Sandy relief bill, I've heard a lot of people talking about it. This isn't about us as Members of Congress. This is about our constituents. Do you have any idea what it's like when someone else's life is ripped from their hands, lives are lost, all personal property is lost, businesses are lost, and the hope of the Federal Government coming in is what is keeping them alive and motivated, and now with no explanation, the rug is pulled out from all of us, but most of all our constituents?

This is a disaster on top of a disaster. We, all of us, I think I speak for all of us, when Katrina hit, 10 days later, $60 billion, $100 billion altogether. Now we have to hear from people in Florida, Louisiana, Texas, and Alabama, and, yes, some people from California and the Midwest when they have a disaster and we were there for them that the rules are going to change for us and it is now not an emergency and the Federal Government doesn't have a role in this?

It's absurd, absolutely absurd. We demand nothing less than we have given the rest of the country. An emergency and disaster means emergency and disaster, and that's what we had. Go back and look at the videos. Go back and see how people were devastated. The people of the Northeast had something we have never seen before, and we're expecting the Federal Government to play their role and be there. That's the minimum that's expected.

We worked hard to put together a package in a bipartisan way. People are crying out for bipartisan action. We had this, Republicans and Democrats, shoulder to shoulder, working together, forming a package, giving a little bit here, giving a little bit there, working our other Members, building the votes, promising, anticipating that we would have today the finishing part of this.

I'm convinced we had the votes. I'm convinced we would have moved this forward. And for us in New Jersey, every day that is lost is a bigger disaster. This isn't about people getting a sun tan. This is about jobs and the economy, a $40 billion tourism business that relies on the summer season. Who is going to come and vacation in a community that doesn't have a beach and whose town is devastated that normally comes there? The answer is nobody. So the bigger disaster is going to come in a couple of months from now, and the money into the pipeline is what we needed now. We needed it 5 minutes ago. We needed it 2 weeks ago. We don't need it a month from now. We need the Federal Government to step up so people's lives can be put back together.

We're all hit hard enough with the recession. On top of that, now we have to deal with the anxiety and the failure of Congress to act, to provide what is normally provided. Why all of the sudden are New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania, why are we the first States that have to answer to some new rules or some new formula that is going to come out about how we do these things? I don't ever remember a question with Katrina, that that $60 billion was too big a number. I remember that they were showing how people's lives were devastated. Why are our constituents any less important than the constituents of the past who had devastation? All of this is real, and we need to find a way to move forward.

So, yes, there is anger and frustration. That is all rolled into this. We're going to stay united. We're going to work together. We're going to find a way to move this forward. But we need to make this absolutely crystal clear that this is not about people in Congress; this is about constituents whose lives were ruined. We need to do the right thing, and we need to do it now.