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Public Statements

Department of Defense Appropriations Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. LAUTENBERG. Mr. President, on October 29, one of the largest Atlantic hurricanes on record slammed into the Jersey shore. At the same time, a winter storm system hit New Jersey from the west, creating a superstorm that did unprecedented damage to my State.

When the sun came up the next day, parts of New Jersey looked like a war zone.

Reports indicate that more than 30 people in New Jersey were killed, and at least 100 in the U.S. lost their lives as a result of this storm.

Across New Jersey, 350,000 housing units were damaged or destroyed.

Imagine how all of those families felt. Imagine having to evacuate, and coming home to find nothing there. The place where you raised your children and created so many memories--gone.

Across our State, 75 percent of small businesses were affected; big parts of our transportation system were shut down; and our electrical grid was crippled. There were approximately 2,400,000 power outages in New Jersey, affecting roughly two-thirds of all power customers in the State.

In response to this devastation, I was proud to see New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and President Obama put aside their political differences and join together to help people in a desperate situation. This bipartisan leadership made the whole country proud.

We have an opportunity with the bill we are considering this week to show that kind of leadership here in the Senate.

The Superstorm Sandy supplemental appropriations bill will help New Jerseyans recover from this storm and rebuild our State so we are stronger for the next storm.

The bill extends $60,000,000,000 of aid to New Jersey and the region.

That's about $20,000,000,000 less than New Jersey and New York estimated the States would need--and those State estimates took weeks to compile and were done with help from third party analysts.

Simply put, the bill before us is a reasonable down payment on the basics of our recovery and rebuilding effort.

Where private insurance wasn't enough, this bill will help residents and small businesses pick up the pieces and begin to restore their lives.

It helps fund the repair of our devastated transportation network, our damaged electrical grid, and other public infrastructure.

And the bill provides for proven Federal programs that will help reduce flood risk along New Jersey's shore and protect the investment we are making in rebuilding coastal communities.

The situation in New Jersey is still desperate.

Tens of thousands of New Jerseyans face unemployment because of the storm.

And 7 weeks after Sandy, more than 40,000 people in New Jersey are still out of their homes. Their suffering will only increase as we enter the coldest months of the year.

And the Hoboken PATH station remains closed as well, causing local businesses to shut their doors.

How long are we going to make people wait for relief?

When other States have suffered overwhelming disasters, Congress has helped them rebuild and restore. That is what we do as Americans--we help each other in times of need.

We saw the worst of Mother Nature in Superstorm Sandy. But we saw the best of the American people. Neighbors helped neighbors, and leaders put politics aside.

Now it is our turn in the Senate to join together across party lines and help rebuild New Jersey, New York, and the other States that were devastated by Superstorm Sandy.

Let's pass the Sandy supplemental appropriations bill this week.

I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.

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