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Mr. PALAZZO. Madam Chair, I rise in favor of the
Sandy relief packages being considered today.
I want to thank Chairman Rogers and the Appropriations Committee for their work to bring this bill to the floor in a responsible manner and address many of the concerns that some in this body have. I also want to take this opportunity once more to thank my colleagues for their work on yesterday's Sandy Relief Improvement Act that brought much-needed reforms for our disaster relief systems.
This bill that passed the House unanimously is a good first step in streamlining the disaster relief process and saving the country money and lives. These are the kinds of commonsense reforms that must continue to be a part of the disaster relief conversation.
A little over a week ago, I voted against adding more debt to a failing system without reforms. Many of my colleagues joined me in that vote, and I know some still have reservations about the package before the House today. I have spoken to many of these colleagues. I understand concerns about the fiscal state of our Nation. I understand your position, and I respect your vote.
But while we continue to do the responsible thing by looking for ways to pay for future disaster relief, we must do what is necessary to help those in the Northeast, and we must do it now. Let me just say, a vote for yesterday's reform package would pass the House unanimously, and a vote for today's relief package allows us to move forward in a way that begins to address much-needed reforms while at the same time providing the immediate relief that Sandy victims so desperately need.
I saw those needs up close and personal when I visited some of the hardest hit areas of New Jersey and New York last week. It brought back vivid images of Hurricane Katrina and the destruction that my home State of Mississippi experienced 7 years ago. Districts like those of my friends Congressman Runyan and Congressman Grimm are similar to those along the gulf coast after Katrina. Their constituents experienced a terrible natural disaster, and they need our help.
Today, we consider provisions that provide immediate relief for Sandy victims while allowing them to build forward, not just back, and that will strengthen these communities in the face of future storms. We cannot wait another 7 years, and we cannot wait until the next disaster before we take up these reforms.
Today's vote for immediate relief is about giving the Sandy victims the help they need now. It is vital to the recovery efforts of the Northeast, it is vital to making our communities more resilient, and it is vital to ensuring better preparedness and response to future storms. So I urge my colleagues to support the disaster relief package.
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