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Public Statements

Hurricane Sandy Relief

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. NADLER. Mr. Speaker, sometimes events occur that are so out of the ordinary, so unusual as to defy belief. Such is the decision of the Speaker last night not to permit this House to vote on relief aid for the three States and some other areas that were devastated by Hurricane Sandy.

I have been in this House for 20 years. There have been many disasters--floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, wildfires. In every single instance, this House has voted aid for the necessary States; in every single instance, usually within a week or 2. Never more than 3. It has now been 9 weeks since October 29 when Hurricane Sandy devastated three States and parts of more--9 weeks.

The Senate passed a bill to aid us. The House was ready. The bill was prepared and an amendment was prepared. We were assured the bill would be on the floor last night or today. At the last minute the Speaker, without even talking to Republicans, not to mention Democrats from New York, refusing to meet with them, suddenly pulled the bill and said we wouldn't have a vote; as if the people in New York and Connecticut and Pennsylvania, New Jersey are not in need of aid; as if thousands of people are still not without heat, without water--as if thousands of small businesses don't need loans and aid so that they don't go under; as if thousands of people don't need help to rebuild their homes, to clear the trash from their properties; as if hundreds of municipalities don't need aid to finance this activity, having used up all their budgets for that purpose.

We're told by the chairman of the Appropriations Committee we'll get a bill on the floor later this month in the next Congress. It's already 9 weeks. It's already an unprecedented length of time. And why? Are New Yorkers and Pennsylvanians and Connecticut residents and New Jersey residents less American than the people that we aid in the Midwest and the South when we vote for aid for those people because they are the victims of natural disasters? How can we treat an entire region of the country this way? It is the most disgraceful action I've seen in this House in the 20 years I've been here.

I see that we're told that, well, FEMA still has money until March. But it's not just FEMA; it's the Small Business Administration that needs the appropriation now to help small businesses now; it's the Army Corps of Engineers that needs the authorization, the appropriation now to help the people who are victimized.

There is no excuse for this, none. It is a betrayal of the people of those States. It is a betrayal of the people of the United States. It is a betrayal by the Speaker personally of the Members of this House not to permit a vote. I have never seen an action like it. I hope I never see it again.

I urge the Speaker to reconsider and to rectify this decision today, because today is the deadline to avert going down in history as shameful.


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