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Public Statements

Disaster Relief Appropriations Act, 2013

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. I thank my good friend for yielding, and I strongly support Mr. Frelinghuysen's amendment.

Madam Chair, gaps in homeowners insurance coverage and a growing realization that there will be major tax receipt losses from towns that have had their tax bases eviscerated by Sandy is further compounded in a State that's reeling from a body blow with no precedent. All of this has led to crippling shortfalls. Towns have serious gaps in needed resources. They need our help. The $33 billion Frelinghuysen amendment fills those gaps for people in need of housing assistance, public infrastructure destroyed or damaged by Sandy will get a huge boost, and economic revitalization will accelerate.

I've lost count, Madam Chair, of the number of my constituents who either didn't have flood insurance for their homes or who had an inadequate amount of coverage. To compound their misery, many have upside-down mortgages, and they desperately need our help. The Frelinghuysen amendment raises to $16 billion from $3.9 billion in the Rogers amendment, funds to aid in the relief of homeowners, buyouts, and home elevation. It will also provide very critical moneys for the Army Corps of Engineers. Where the Army Corps had projects in place, there was a mitigation of the amount of damage to infrastructure and to homes. We need this additional funding to protect homes, businesses so millions of people can get on with their lives.

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Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. I thank my good friend for yielding.

Madam Chair, I rise in strong support of the amendment offered by my good friend and colleague, Mr. Runyan, to ensure that the funding in this bill is targeted to those fishery disasters resulting from Superstorm Sandy.

Recreational angling contributes more than $125 billion annually to the American economy, Madam Speaker, in addition to creating and sustaining over 1 million jobs.

New Jersey has a long tradition of fishing along our 130-mile shoreline. Recreational and commercial fishing generates over $1.3 billion in New Jersey in economic activity and supports 8,500 Jersey jobs.

This vital industry not only creates and sustains good jobs but boosts fishery conservation efforts, tourism, and contributes significantly to the economy in coastal communities. The disaster declaration on November 16 and the modest funding provided in the pending legislation will help rebuild the damaged and destroyed infrastructure so that this industry can recover and return to pre-storm levels.

I urge all members to support the Runyan amendment.

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