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Public Statements

Disaster Relief Appropriations Act, 2013

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. I thank the gentleman for yielding.

Madam Chair, at the onset I want to thank the leadership for helping to bring this important legislation to the floor. I also want to thank Chairman Hal Rogers and the Appropriations Committee for their assistance. One of the untold chapters of this post-Sandy story has been the hard work of the chairman and his staff in preparing both his amendment and mine, which follows. Most importantly, I want to thank the chairman for his eloquent statement in the Rules Committee last night. His heartfelt recognition of the hardship and misery suffered by our constituents in the Northeast meant a great deal to me personally and to our New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut delegations.

I also want to offer some words of appreciation to my colleagues from New Jersey and New York. Their bipartisan diligence and dedication and that of our staffs over the past several weeks should make all of our constituents proud. And then there is Governor Christie, my constituent from Morris County, whose tireless work has helped us get to this day and will help us get this bill across the finish line.

As he always does, he put a very human face on the devastation suffered by families and communities in New Jersey and our neighbors in New York and Connecticut.

My colleagues, people are hurting this afternoon in New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut and other areas of the Northeast. The suffering and damage are real and their needs are great. According to many estimates, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, and the rest of the east coast sustained nearly $100 billion worth of damage.

The destruction is staggering. 346,000 household units were damaged in New Jersey alone. Tens of thousands of our fellow Americans are still displaced from their homes and their apartments. Municipalities are struggling to provide services. Many are still under emergency declarations, and some municipalities are not habitable. Small businesses are decimated. Many small business men and women are trying to decide whether they can survive and keep their employees on the payroll.

Madam Chairman, the area damaged by Hurricane Sandy represents roughly 10 percent of our Nation's economy. It makes good sense, economic and fiscal, to get our region back on its feet as soon as it can.

I urge support of the Rogers amendment and the Frelinghuysen amendment. Without these vital measures, our constituents in the Northeast face nothing but more delay, more uncertainty, more unemployment, and more misery.

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Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Mr. Young, that is correct. The funds we provide in this legislation in my amendment are funds we believe are required to respond to emergency needs for the Army Corps of Engineers related to Hurricane Sandy. By appropriating these funds for this direct purpose, other prior appropriated emergency funds for the Corps should be and are to remain available for other emergency needs in accordance with the direction provided in those previous acts.

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Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Madam Chair, I yield myself 1 minute.

Hurricane Sandy devastated the northeast coast in late October, 78 days ago, leaving misery in its wake, disrupting the lives and businesses of millions of our fellow citizens. The storm caused unprecedented destruction--$100 billion in New York and New Jersey alone. My amendment supplements Mr. Rogers' measure in order to bring the total aid package to $60 billion, which is the amount requested by the President and endorsed by Governors Christie, Cuomo, and Malloy.

I want the Members to know that this amendment strips out all provisions in the Senate that were deemed earmarks and all authorizing language.

Madam Chairman, I'll close by reminding our colleagues of the proud tradition of Congress' cite in the recent letter that many of us received from the Governors of the States affected. Madam Chair, in late December, the Governors of the affected States wrote to each House Member, and I quote:

The congressional delegations of our three States have always been there to provide critical votes to these aid packages, because that is what America is all about--when one of us is in need, we step up to the plate to lend a helping hand.

It's time to lend that helping hand, and I urge the support of my amendment.

Madam Chair, I am pleased to yield 1 minute to the ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee, the gentlelady from New York (Mrs. Lowey).

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Madam Chair, I yield myself the balance of the time.

Madam Chair, I do have a point of clarification before I yield back my time. The amendment includes $22,220,000 for the Federal Highway Administration's emergency relief program. It's our intent that the $100 million cap applies to only the funds in this act, and not to previous emergencies.

In closing, Madam Chairman, as I said earlier, I ask all Members to lend the Northeast a hand, help us put lives and families and communities back in good order. Those that have suffered, continue to suffer, have had personal misery and loss, we remember them as we pass this bill today. And I want to thank all the Members for stepping forward to be supportive of this legislation.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. I thank the gentlewoman for yielding.

In the hundreds of thousands of people that have been displaced in the Northeast are a lot of people who have lost their apartments and houses that don't have the money to hire lawyers. Their conditions are such they've lost everything that they have--their possessions, their apartments, the houses that they've invested in throughout their lives--and many of these people do not have the financial means to protect their interests.

I know people have a hate-on for the Legal Services Corporation of America--and they've had their problems, and our Appropriations Committee has dealt with reining them in when they've acted inappropriately--but at a time when people are in such desperate straits and misery, to deny the poorest of the poor recourse when fat people can be taking advantage of them, or they're looking for some sort of food and shelter and they're seeking legal counsel to make sure that they can protect their rights and their families, I'm opposed to this amendment, I think, for good reason.

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Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Ms. Velázquez, removing mold is critical to restoring the lives and livelihoods of New Yorkers, New Jerseyans, and those in Connecticut living in public housing affected by the storm.

We will work to see that in the final bill funding is made available for mold abatement, and we thank you for your focus on this very important issue that often escapes public notice unless you're directly affected. So I want to commend you for that effort.

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Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. I want to thank the gentleman from Kansas for putting forward this amendment. I am pleased to accept it. I just want to assure you that in both the Rogers amendment and my amendment we have plenty of transparency, and we have lots of reports, and I think your added protections of the taxpayers' dollars are very much in order.

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Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Madam Chair, let me associate my remarks with those of Mr. Moran. And certainly, we want to commend the gentleman from Michigan for wanting to save money.

I think, in many communities, certainly in the Northeast, but I'm sure in your home State, there are certain historical structures that define the very essence of those communities. You refer to the fact that the communities are supportive. In many cases, it's the nonprofits that are supporting them.

And I asked the staff--and this is why it's in the bill--when we looked at Katrina relief and all the historic structures that were within that affected area, which was vast, we also provided this window.

Of course, in the Northeast we are often essentially focused on our Revolutionary path. But unless we provide to these nonprofits and to communities, in some cases governmental entities, this waiver, a lot of these historical buildings will be lost forever. And I think that time is of the essence.

I commend you for what you're trying to do, but I oppose your amendment.

I yield back the balance of my time.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT


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