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Public Statements

Department of Defense Appropriations Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, the Sandy supplemental appropriations bill provides $3.5 billion in funding for new construction projects through the Corps of Engineers. Part of that $3 billion is toward reducing future flood risk--not repairing present but reducing future.

I talked to CRS this morning after listening to my colleague from New York. Over the last 25 years, the average participation rate was 35 percent-65 percent. No exceptions for future mitigation risks were made during Katrina. It was not 100 percent. It was not 90 percent.

All this does is restore it back to what we have had traditionally. We know projects that shouldn't get funded won't get funded when we have this kind of ratio.

I reserve the remainder of my time.

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Mr. COBURN. It doesn't mean they won't get rebuilt; it means that portion of the increase will be a contribution rate of 35 percent. We are going to do a complete restoration of what was there. The differential is and what we know from history, when this was put in, is it keeps projects that don't benefit from being built. The claim of the Senator from New York that they won't get built is just untrue. Everything is going to be restored, but new mitigation projects should have a cost share so we don't do frivolous mitigation projects.

So I would insist on the yeas and nays on this amendment, and I ask for the yeas and nays.

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Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, I have no doubt there was significant damage in the past of fisheries both on the west coast, Alaska, and on the east coast. But a large portion of this money in this bill is not for fisheries but for research. This should not be, in fact, in an emergency supplemental bill.

So all this amendment does is say that fisheries reparations inside 50 miles of Sandy qualifies for this money, outside of 50 miles does not. The regular process of going through the appropriations process, making appropriate judgments about priorities is what we need to be doing, just like the point of order that was made on firefighting.

I would suggest we eliminate this portion of it or at least limit it to Sandy and not other areas. With that, I yield back the remainder of my time.

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Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, before we go to the second amendment--I ask unanimous consent--I am looking at my transcription of this amendment. It says 50 miles. So if, in fact, what is at the desk does not say 50 miles, I ask unanimous consent to amend the amendment so it would read 50 miles.

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Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, amendment No. 3371 is a good government house cleaning for FEMA. FEMA determines disasters based on a declaration process that is based on a per capita income--or per capita damage indicator. It has not been revised to account for the effects of inflation. Because we have not revised it, the smaller States actually get more benefit from FEMA than the larger States.

Oklahoma has had 25 disaster declarations in the last 6 years, more than any other State. So what I am actually proposing will not help my State; it will actually hurt my State. But it is improper for us to continue to use an outmoded number when, in fact, a small State has the same amount of damage as a large State, but the per capita indicator would say it does not meet the requirements.

All I am requesting is that FEMA, over the next 4 years, update this. It does not have any application until 2016. It gives them time to update it. Then, through good government, we have a better reflection of when we declare a disaster and when we do not as far as the per capita indicator would tell us.

I yield back.

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Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, this bill is full of authorizations--I mean, literally, full of authorizations. This is something I have studied and looked at. I have been looking at FEMA for 8 years. We should not wait to do this. Let's do it now. It is common sense. It does not harm anybody. It actually makes us better at what we are trying to do with Federal emergency management.

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