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Richard D.
Democrat IL

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  • Hurricane Sandy Supplemental Appropriations

    by Senator Richard J. Durbin

    Posted on 2013-01-02

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    Read More about Hurricane Sandy Supplemental Appropriations

    DURBIN. Mr. President, I want to join in the remarks of the majority leader. What a disappointment to learn that last night the House of Representatives failed to bring up the supplemental appropriations bill, which is to provide relief for the victims of Hurricane Sandy.

    The Senate passed this bill not that long ago--just a few days ago. Mr. President, $60.4 billion in a supplemental appropriations passed here by a vote of 62 to 32--a strong bipartisan vote. It did not include everything the Governors of New York and New Jersey and other States had asked for, but it did provide critical funding to help those who lost their homes and their businesses.

    We expected the House to act on this bill. To say this is a no- brainer is to overstate the obvious. We rally as an American family when many of us are in need. I can remember this very well in my own State.

    In 2008, Illinois and other Midwestern States had a similar situation. A massive storm was heading our way and flooding from the Mississippi River was inevitable. I visited several towns along the Mississippi back then, including Quincy, IL. Then-Senator Obama and I came to Quincy and pitched in--filling sandbags with thousands of other volunteers.

    We worked through Father's Day to help mitigate the oncoming flood, but it still came, and there was serious damage. Just like the people in New York and New Jersey, these people did everything they could before and after and during the storm to save their homes, businesses, and the lives of their loved ones. But the magnitude of our 2008 storm was too big for local and State governments to handle.

    The magnitude of the flood, just like Hurricane Sandy, required action from Congress and the Federal Government. We passed a supplemental appropriations bill for Illinois and the Midwest in 2008. That aid was essential to helping the victims of that flood in our State.

    I have served in Congress for over 20 years, and every time--every time--some section of our Nation has been victimized by a disaster, we have come together as an American family to help those in need. We draw on our national treasure and the efforts of American people across the country to come to the rescue of our neighbors in need.

    The time to help New York and New Jersey and other States victimized by Hurricane Sandy is now, but the Republican leadership in the House has abandoned those victims with a decision to let this bill die. In New York and New Jersey more than 651,000 homes were damaged or destroyed, 463,000 businesses were hurt and need assistance. According to the Senators from those States, that either matches or exceeds the magnitude of the disaster of Hurricane Katrina that struck the States on our southern coast on the Gulf of Mexico.

    Hundreds of miles of roads and rail were damaged and will need to be repaired. However, the rebuilding is on hold because of a political decision by the Speaker of the House and Republican leadership. I can tell you, I know full well--because Senator Schumer is in the leadership, and I have watched as he and Senator Gillibrand, Senator Menendez, Senator Lautenberg, and others have worked to build a bipartisan coalition in the House to pass this critical measure--all it needed was to be called by the Speaker, and the Speaker refused.

    But there is still time. There is time in the 112th Congress for the House to pass the Senate bill. I urgently beg the Speaker of the House of Representatives to put any political concerns aside, and for the sake of these victims and victims of other disasters across America to pass this critically important bill as quickly as possible.

    I yield the floor.

    I suggest the absence of a quorum.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.

    The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.

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