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Mr. SCHUMER. Mr. President, I thank the chair of the Appropriations Committee for the wonderful job she has done. We have worked together as a team, and she has been great. This is her first major bill as chair of the Appropriations Committee, and I think it bodes well for the future, if you will, of the strengthening of that committee on into the year as we do appropriations bills.
I thank my colleague from Alabama, my gym mate, Senator Shelby, for his help and support. I think he and Senator Mikulski will make a great team as chair and ranking member on the Appropriations Committee.
I thank Mary Landrieu and the other subcommittee chairs. They did an amazing job for us, and I thank them. MARY'S assistance and advice, given what she went through several years ago in Louisiana with Katrina, was invaluable to those of us in New York and New Jersey.
Finally, I see Senator Gillibrand is here; Senator Blumenthal is in the chair; in addition, Senator Murphy, Senator Menendez, Senator Lautenberg--we have all worked as a team, and I thank them for their efforts.
It has been 91 days since Sandy struck. It has taken far too long, but we are finally one vote away from getting the much needed aid we so desperately depend on in New York and New Jersey. It was 3 months ago that Superstorm Sandy tore up the east coast, obliterating hundreds of thousands of homes in New York. It was 91 days ago that this hurricane, coupled with a cold front, uprooted small businesses that are the lifeblood of middle-class communities on Long Island, Staten Island, Queens, Brooklyn, and Lower Manhattan.
As you may recall, Sandy's wrath was wide, and it was deep. Nearly 300,000 families had their homes damaged or destroyed by Sandy; 131 people were killed, 60 in New York; 2 million individuals lost power; and our Nation's public transportation system witnessed catastrophic flooding. Despite overwhelming damage from wind and water, snow, and in some neighborhoods even fire, New Yorkers are ready to move forward.
Not one day has passed since Sandy made landfall that I haven't heard from my constituents wondering when Washington will remember them. I heard the words of my good friend from Indiana. I know he is a caring person. But for decades, taxpayers from New York have sent their money when disasters occurred, such as fires on the west coast or floods in the Missouri and Mississippi Valleys, hurricanes in Louisiana or Florida, and other disasters. We have sent our tax dollars--billions of them--and now, all of a sudden, some are suggesting we should change the rules when we are hit by the first major disaster to hit the New York City region in a very long time? That is not fair. That is not right. We have argued against it, and I hope my colleagues will defeat the Lee amendment.
I also say to my colleagues that this is not just about dollars and cents. This is about people who care and are waiting--homeowners who are waiting to rebuild their homes so they can move back into them. This is about small business owners who are hanging on by a thread after building a business for 25 years. We know when the hand of God strikes, it is overwhelming.
Take Rita from Emerald Magic Lawn Care. Her company helps local families, schools, and businesses with lawn care in the spring and summer, and around the holidays they help with decorations and lights.
But Emerald Magic's business was interrupted for many weeks, and the client base dried up. Rita's business will be in huge trouble. It may not survive if she doesn't get a lifeline--and get one now. So this is very important.
Week after week, month after month, New Yorkers have been told this is ``a waiting game.'' That is not an answer we can live with, and neither can they. We can't wait any longer because nothing about this disaster was a game for the family in Breezy Point or in Rockaway or in Long Island or in Queens or Staten Island. It wasn't a game for them or for the more than 265,000 small businesses whose doors are currently shuttered or the hundreds of thousands of homeowners who have severe damage to their homes. Many don't have their homes anymore. They can't wait either.
And they are not the only ones. Our schools and hospitals are still combating Sandy-related repairs. The damage to our roads and transit systems hasn't gone away in 3 months. Our coastline must be rebuilt so we are not naked if, God forbid, another Sandy occurs. New York has waited, but we can't wait any longer.
We know too well that when a major disaster strikes, it is too much for any one State or any one region to tackle. But that is what we have been left to do so far in New York, and I know the same goes for my colleagues in New Jersey. So Senators LAUTENBERG, MENENDEZ, GILLIBRAND, and I are making a plea to our colleagues: Please, we have waited 91 long days. We can't wait any longer. Simply put, we must pass this bill today. Ninety-one days ago, Sandy struck a body blow against New York. Today, finally, we can strike back and give our people the help they need to get back on their feet and rebuild our communities.
Mr. President, I yield the floor.
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