U.S. Representative Colleen Hanabusa (HI-01) today cited human concerns and the experience of her home state of Hawaii in voting in favor of H.R. 152, the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013, which provides an additional $17 billion to address immediate disaster aid needs for the states affected by Hurricane Sandy, as well as $33 billion for longer-term recovery efforts and infrastructure improvements. The House passed the measure on a vote of 241-180, and it now heads to the Senate.
The first piece of Sandy Aid Relief legislation, which provided $9.7 billion in aid, was approved by the House and Senate on January 4, 2013.
"Today marks 79 days since Hurricane Sandy struck the east coast and I am appalled that it has taken this long to get much needed aid to the affected states. We in Hawaii know all too well what it's like to have to pick up the pieces and rebuild after facing Mother Nature's wrath. Our first concern should always be offering assistance to the victims of the devastation, providing for both their immediate health and safety and long term concerns about the economic effects of the damage. This is not a time to stand on political doctrine; it is a time for human concern," said Hanabusa.
On December 7, 2012, the Obama Administration requested $60.41 billion in supplemental funding and legislative provisions to address both immediate and long-term damages from Hurricane Sandy. On December 28, the Senate passed this request in the form of an amendment to H.R. 1; however, the House Republican leadership never brought that legislation to the floor.
The House GOP leadership promised the House would consider Sandy Disaster Relief on January 1 or 2; however, Speaker Boehner cancelled votes for this funding package on New Year's Day and adjourned the 112th Congress with no action.
H.R. 152, along with the $9.7 billion already signed into law, provide similar funding levels to the Administration's request. The majority of the funding in the two packages is designated as "emergency" funding exempt from discretionary spending caps, with just a portion designated as disaster funding under the Budget Control Act.
Hurricane Sandy, which hit the east coast on October 29, 2012, is the second most costly natural disaster in U.S. history.