BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT
Mrs. GILLIBRAND. Mr. President, I thank Senator Mikulski for her leadership, not only leading the charge for aid that our families in New York so desperately need but, as chair of the Appropriations Committee, making sure this bill is as strong as it possibly can be. I agree with her remarks that the bill would have been better if they left in place what the Senate had written, but I thank the chairwoman for her dedication to helping our families and businesses recover. It has made such a difference.
I also thank Senator Landrieu for her experience and expertise in meeting the needs of States devastated by natural disasters. She has had to live through these tragedies before. She knows what it is like to talk to constituents whose loved ones have been lost, whose families and businesses have been destroyed and torn apart, and whose lives are just in the beginning of being rebuilt. I thank her for what she has done.
I thank Senator Menendez, who will be following me with remarks, and Senator Lautenberg, and Senator Chuck Schumer for the work he has done on behalf of New Yorkers, being a clarion call for common sense and immediate action and for bringing our colleagues together to meet the needs of so many families who are so much in need.
I rise today to urge my colleagues from both sides of the aisle to support our efforts to finally come to the relief of millions of Americans who are suffering in the wake of Superstorm Sandy. New Yorkers in my home State have had to wait far too long for Congress to act.
Superstorm Sandy was a weather event unlike anything we in New York have ever seen before. It claimed the lives of 60 New Yorkers, left hundreds of thousands with significant damage to their homes and their businesses, their neighborhoods and their families. This body came together just before the New Year to provide the desperately needed aid families require to rebuild their homes, their businesses, and their lives; the aid our small businesses so desperately need to get their businesses up and running, the lifeblood of our communities flowing again, and getting our families back on their feet.
This bill should be neither controversial nor partisan. We have already debated and passed an almost identical package that was passed by the Republican-led House of Representatives. Once again, the American people are watching us to see if we can come together and stand by families in need, just as we have done for every natural disaster in our Nation's history. They are watching once again to see if this body will do the right thing or turn its back on them and not give them the support they need to rebuild.
This was always an emergency spending bill. It is an emergency, it is urgent, and it needs our action now. We have to seize the opportunity without causing any further delay and we have to show the American people that we can rise on an occasion such as this, when duty calls, to do the right thing. I assure you, there is no one who wants to spend a single cent more than is actually necessary, which is why we took such pains and effort to make sure this bill was transparent, had accountability and the right kind of oversight. We are urging that we fully fund this proposal that was so carefully put together.
Since 1989, Congress has passed 36 emergency appropriations bills for disaster relief without specifically designating any offsets. There is no reason why we should treat this disaster, this emergency, this horror, any differently than we have past disasters.
When disasters do strike, we have always found the good will and the care for one another to do what is right. Protecting people, looking after them, making sure they are safe, allowing businesses to grow is what we should be doing. Our Federal Government's role is to protect the people first. It is our duty as public servants.
I urge my colleagues once again, find that good will, help others, do the right thing.
Mr. President, I wish to engage in a colloquy with the Senator from Maryland, the chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee, as well as the Senator from New Jersey, Senator Menendez.
I thank the chairwoman for her leadership in bringing the disaster supplemental appropriations bill to the Senate floor to address the urgent recovery needs of New York, New Jersey, and the rest of the Northeast that was affected by Superstorm Sandy. It is my hope we will pass this bill quickly so that our communities can begin to rebuild.
It is also important that as we rebuild, agencies of the Federal Government work in a collaborative way, across agencies and in concert with our State and local governments. We should not have multiple agencies studying the same problem separately, but rather the Federal Government should be working together to develop the best models for rebuilding our battered coasts as well as planning for the long-term sustainability and resilience of these vulnerable areas.
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT
Mrs. GILLIBRAND. I thank the chairwoman for making this clarification. It is my hope that as the Army Corps and other agencies work to assess the region's needs post-Sandy, they will work collaboratively to develop the best techniques to rebuild our coasts to reduce flood risks and provide for long-term sustainability of the coastal ecosystem.
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT