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Transportation, Housing And Urban Development, And Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2010

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC




Ms. LANDRIEU. Madam President, I appreciate the chairman allowing me the opportunity to offer this amendment, and also working with Senator Bond, who I understand supports this amendment as well.

I offer this amendment on behalf not only of myself but Senator Harkin, Senator Hutchison, Senator Grassley, and Senator Cornyn. So we have a strong bipartisan group of Senators who are coming to the floor to ask our colleagues to approve an amendment that has to do with a change and modification in the Community Development Block Grant Program that has been put in place to help communities prepare for and recover from disasters.

This amendment is going to affect all communities in a positive way across the country that received community development block grant funding and in a very significant way. If this amendment is passed by this body today and continues in this bill, the communities that have received special allocations of community development block grant money will be able to use those funds to match other Federal funds available.

This is the way the normal Community Development Block Grant Program has operated, I understand, since its inception. As my colleagues can see from this chart, in every single situation, except for two, in the last 17 years, that has been the case. So my amendment is basically allowing the floods and natural disasters of 2008 to be included in this effort; in other words, to say, if you received community development block grant funding, you can use those funds as a local and State match for other Federal funding.

This is important for two reasons. One, it has been done in that way the
last 17 years for good reason. For good reason because these communities, you could argue, have even greater challenges than normal, considering that in any time it is tough to provide housing or to build roads or to help their small businesses get back on their feet, but after a catastrophic disaster it is sometimes 5, if not 10, times harder. So why restrict their money at a time when they need the greatest flexibility? That is all this amendment does.

Again, this is the way it has been done in general community development block grants since the beginning of the program. It is the way it was done with disaster community development in every case. Our amendment would simply make that uniform policy for the States affected by the 2008 disasters.

This will be a great help to Texas that is still recovering from the storms of Ike. I will be visiting and having a field hearing through my Committee on Small Business as well as Disaster. Senator Hutchison will be attending that field hearing to visit Galveston just on Friday. So approval of this amendment would bring a lot of hope and encouragement to the people on the Gulf Coast, not just in Louisiana but, as I said, in Texas as well. California will be benefited as well as Iowa and some of the States that were affected by the floods.

So, again, this is amendment No. 2365. I think my explanation is sufficient about what this amendment does and what a great help it will be to mayors and parish officials and county officials struggling to rebuild and what a smart way to use and to leverage moneys to get these communities rebuilt quickly in these very difficult economic times.

I ask unanimous consent that the CDBG allocation chart to which I referred to be printed in the Record at this time.

There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in the RECORD, as follows:


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