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Public Statements

Disaster Relief Appropriations Act, 2013

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. PRICE of North Carolina. Madam Chairman, I thank the ranking member, and I rise in support of both amendments before us, amendments to assist the communities devastated by Hurricane Sandy.

We in North Carolina remember Hurricane Fran and Hurricane Floyd, and we know how important it is for Congress to extend itself in such an hour of need.

As ranking member of the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, I note that DHS would receive $5.5 billion within the base $17 billion provision, accounting for only 54 percent of the administration's request for the Department. Also absent are $6.1 billion in emergency disaster relief and $300 million in disaster loans.

Madam Chairman, without this additional $6.1 billion, FEMA estimates that the Disaster Relief Fund will run out of money in May of 2013, halting long-term rebuilding in places like Joplin and Tuscaloosa. Adopting only the $17 billion proposal does not even fully fund current Sandy estimates and, astonishingly, provides no funding for further disasters in 2013.

The $17 billion package also shortchanges the Coast Guard by about half the request and doesn't include funding requested for CBP, ICE, or the Secret Service.

Now, my Republican colleagues say that the

supplementary $33 billion package will address my concerns, but requiring separate votes is designed either to doom the second bill or to pass it on the backs of Democrats while Tea Partiers are free to vote ``no.'' This is another example of Republicans playing politics with disaster aid--thumbing their nose at the members of the Coast Guard decimated by Sandy and at the firefighters in Breezy Point trying to rebuild their devastated community. They're saying to their own constituents, if disaster strikes, there is no guarantee Congress will assist you. This is a dangerous precedent.

Madam Chairman, when I was chairman of this subcommittee from 2007 to 2010, we provided more than $14 billion in emergency disaster relief spending following natural disasters. Not once during that process did we ask who was affected, Democrats or Republicans, red States or blue States?

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Mr. PRICE of North Carolina. We provided the money based on the President's request, without hesitation, because that's what the American people expect and deserve from Congress in a time of need.

So, Madam Chairman, I will support both of these amendments. I urge my colleagues to do likewise. The right thing to do, however, would have been to hold a vote on the bipartisan Senate package sent to us back in December.

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