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Providing for Consideration of H.R. 152, Disaster Relief Appropriations Act, 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. MICA. I thank the gentleman for yielding, and hopefully I can shed a little light on some of the commentary in this debate.

First of all, the Congress always has and always will respond to disasters, and it is important in the Northeast superstorm that we do so, and we do so responsibly. Anyone who says that we did not act responsibly, the Republicans didn't act or our leadership, is wrong.

First of all, let me recount. After the disaster, our committee, Transportation and Infrastructure, which oversees FEMA, we went to New York. We met with officials. We assessed the damage. We came back and we did a hearing and hauled in FEMA personnel. We asked specifically, Is there enough funding available to provide disaster relief? The answer was yes. There was $6 billion in the continuing resolution that Congress had passed and another $1 billion left from the previous year, a total of $7 billion. The question at that time is how much would be spent. They said approximately $3 billion, leaving $4 billion, that would take us--in the disaster relief fund account--till February.

We worked with the Senate and others in trying to look at reforms, because the last word from Mayor Bloomberg and the President of the Staten Island borough when I left them was, Can you help me get money from Hurricane Irene, which they still couldn't get reimbursed because of the bureaucracy and red tape from current FEMA policy.

Yesterday the Congress--and we passed it twice before--passed those reforms that are so necessary so that New York and New Jersey and the others affected won't have the same problems in securing that money.

So, first, there was enough money and is enough money available in the disaster relief fund. There wasn't enough money in the flood insurance account, and that is a reimbursable. It will come back. Before we left, we put $7 billion to ensure that they would be taken care of, and they are taken care of.

There was enough money, there is enough money, and there will be enough money. This rule is constructed because, when the Senate passed their bill over to us at the last minute and the last hour, they porked it down. They put things in there that didn't need to be in there, thinking that they could pull one over on the House of Representatives and slide in with disaster relief a whole host of earmarks, and I won't go into the details to embarrass anyone. The record will reflect that.

So we acted responsibly, our leadership acted in a responsible fashion, and today this committee, the Rules Committee, is bringing this out in, also, a responsible fashion to deal with the disaster. We'll do it right, and we'll protect the American people in the process and their hard-earned taxpayer dollars.


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