Disaster Relief Appropriations Act, 2013

Floor Speech

By:  Rush Holt, Jr.
Date: Jan. 15, 2013
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. HOLT. Madam Chair, I thank my colleague from New Jersey, Chairman Frelinghuysen, for yielding but also for putting together a very thoughtful amendment. A lot of thought has gone into this amendment. It is compassionate, yes, but it is thoughtful compassion, not dumb compassion.

I rise in opposition to the amendment offered by the gentleman from Texas. It's a misguided amendment that would strike funding from NOAA's Regional Ocean Partnership grants program. These grants help scientists understand where and how the shoreline has changed, evaluate the long-term effects of storm damage, and prepare mitigation plans for future severe weather events. The whole point is to rebuild better and smarter. The Flores amendment eliminates such funding for coastal mitigation, which means Congress would lose the opportunity to ensure that the money is spent on recovery from this disaster in a smart way that makes coastal communities stronger and safer. It's nonsensical to impair the ability of NOAA to prepare properly for hurricanes in an emergency appropriations bill designed to respond to a hurricane.

I strongly urge my colleagues to reject this misguided amendment, and I thank my good friend from New Jersey for all the thought that has gone into his amendment.

The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from Texas is recognized for his remaining 1 minute.


Mr. HOLT. Madam Chairman, this misguided amendment by the gentleman from Georgia would strike funding for the National Weather Service's ground readiness program.

Now, the ground readiness program means that weather satellite signals can be collected on the ground and those data can be used in operational models and forecasts. This satellite data is critical for forecasting hurricanes. In fact, the National Weather Service used data from these NOAA satellites to accurately predict the scope and the path of Hurricane Sandy.

Now, this amount is a relatively small dollar amount in the overall disaster relief bill, but this amendment is of outsized importance in its misguided intent. A recent study showed that without the polar satellite data from the weather models, the forecasters would have said Sandy would stay out at sea, would not have hit the mid-Atlantic coast. Imagine how much worse the storm damage would have been if the emergency management officials said it would never make landfall.

It's hard to overestimate how important accurate forecasts are. Let's accelerate the program, not slow it down. It's completely nonsensical to impair the ability of the National Weather Service to predict accurately. This is reminiscent of that ludicrous proposal a few years ago that we abolish the National Weather Service because there is a successful private cable weather channel.

I urge my colleagues to reject this misguided amendment.


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