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Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. LATHAM. Chairman Aderholt, thank you very much.

I rise in strong support of H.R. 5855, the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2013, and I commend the chairman and the ranking member and the staff for doing a really excellent job of crafting a bill that both strengthens our security and reduces government spending.

I'm pleased the committee adopted an important amendment, which I cosponsored, which would waive Federal grant requirements to allow the retention of firefighters hired in our local communities. This is a critically important provision for maintaining response capabilities throughout the Nation.

I also want to highlight the fact that despite spending reductions elsewhere in the bill, we were fully funding FEMA's stated requirements for disaster relief, including flood-related grants. Congress has long recognized the Federal role in disaster relief and prevention efforts, since the first disaster relief bill was passed in 1803. The funding contained in the bill today is important because it continues the move away from ad hoc disaster legislation, and toward including relief in mitigation funding in our regular appropriations.

This assistance is vitally important for the safety net for communities at risk for natural disasters. Throughout the summer of 2011, I saw firsthand the flood damage along the Missouri River in western and southwestern Iowa and spoke with Iowans whose lives were disrupted by that disaster. The flood dealt serious damage to properties along the river and took a breathtaking toll of nearby communities. Hazard mitigation and other disaster assistance funding is absolutely necessary to help them rebound from this tragic flooding.

With that, Mr. Chairman, I urge all Members of the House to support final passage of H.R. 5855.


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