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Timothy B.
Former Democrat NY 1
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    Providing for Consideration of H.R. 152, Disaster Relief Appropriations Act, 2013

    by Former Representative Timothy H. Bishop

    Posted on 2013-01-15

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    BISHOP of new york in the house of representatives Tuesday, January 15, 2013 Mr. BISHOP of New York. Mr. Speaker, I thank my friend, colleague and fellow New Yorker for yielding time. I'd also like to thank Representatives Lowey and King for their leadership; and I commend my colleagues in the New York and New Jersey delegations on both sides of the aisle for working so well together to advance the interests of our states at this critical time. I rise to support the rule and urge my colleagues to support H.R. 152, and the Frelinghuysen Amendment, and to oppose the Mulvaney Amendment.

    It has been two-and-a-half months since Superstorm Sandy hit communities in New York, New Jersey, and neighboring states which continue to face the almost insurmountable task of cleaning up and rebuilding homes, businesses, and lives. I'm grateful we finally have the opportunity to consider a relief package to help those who are most in need.

    On the eastern half of Long Island, businesses, farms, and homes fell victim to intense flooding; ferocious winds caused substantial damage to property, vehicles, and businesses; and along the coast, Sandy created breaches in the coastline and severely eroded other beaches. In New York and New Jersey, at least 651,000 homes were damaged or destroyed and approximately 463,000 businesses were impacted.

    [[Page E38]] I must observe this has been a painfully protracted process; it is a fact that what we've tried to accomplish for the last two-and-a-half months had once been considered a common-sense, bipartisan response to natural disasters. And the calls for offsets and a slower pace of funding in the wake of natural disasters are a recent phenomenon, even though previous Congresses quickly supported measures that provided relief to affected states.

    For example, within two weeks of Hurricane Katrina, Congress provided $70 billion in disaster funding to the Gulf Coast with great bipartisan support, and with virtually no discussion about how to pay for it. Congress recognized this was a major disaster, people were hurting, and it had to act to alleviate the suffering.

    Congress, with bipartisan support, continued to appropriate emergency funds for various Katrina projects and activities totaling $120 billion, all without payfors. For example, Congress funded $1 billion to build a retractable seawall to protect New Orleans from rising storm surge. And it approved $14 billion to rebuild and upgrade critical flood prevention infrastructure to minimize, or mitigate, the risk of such devastation occurring again. Why do New York and New Jersey deserve less urgency? And why are mitigation projects for New Orleans considered prudent, and mitigation projects for New York and New Jersey characterized as pork? Mr. Speaker, our states are not asking for anything more than help to get back on their feet and rebuild. We are asking for nothing more than to respond to this disaster as we have for Hurricane Katrina and other natural disasters that have wrought damage upon fellow Americans. I urge my colleagues to support this package without any damaging amendments.


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