Rebuilding America’s Infrastructureby Representative John Garamendi
Posted on 2013-01-15
GARAMENDI. I thank you, Mr. Speaker. It's good, it is very, very
good that the new 113th Congress acted today to reach out in sympathy,
compassion, and with real support to the people who were so severely
impacted by Superstorm Sandy.
One of our colleagues, just a moment ago, spoke about this Nation being at a crossroad. And indeed, we cross paths many, many times and there are many different crossroads. The people of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, and other parts of this great Nation here on the east coast came to a crossroads. That crossroads was 97 days ago when Superstorm Sandy came ashore and whacked and destroyed, pummeled and, indeed, killed Americans.
[[Page H156]] Today, the House of Representatives, not unanimously, unfortunately, but by a strong majority of Democrats and some Republicans, stood tall and said we are one Nation. We're one Nation, and when one of us is harmed, we'll stand with that person. When one State is harmed, we'll stand with that State, and we will come together, just as my colleague said a moment ago, we will come together to provide what is needed to rebuild, to sustain, to provide, so that they who have been harmed can carry on.
There's a lesson here for all of us, and tonight my Democratic colleagues and I will talk about the lesson that Superstorm Sandy brought to this Nation. Certainly one of those lessons has been fulfilled today. As a great Nation, we will provide what is needed for the rebuilding, for the immediate needs, even though it is 97 days late. We will provide because we are a compassionate Nation.
But there's also another lesson here, and that lesson is for this entire Nation to get ahead of the next disaster. It will come. It'll be another storm up the east coast or into the gulf. It'll be an earthquake in my State of California or a flood or a fire. But there will be yet another natural disaster of one sort or another, perhaps man-made, perhaps Mother Nature.
What we must do as a Nation is to get ahead of that, to prepare ourselves not only with emergency responses, but more and just as important, to prepare the infrastructure to protect the lives and the property of the citizens of this Nation. That's the second lesson of Superstorm Sandy. Build the infrastructure to prepare for the next flood, the next hurricane, the next onslaught of Mother Nature. We can do it. And in so doing, we not only reduce the cost of that next storm, that next flood, but we also save the lives of Americans, and we put people to work right now.
This Nation is not yet fully recovered from the recession of 2008. This Nation has not yet fully brought Americans back to work, and we can do so taking the lesson of this day's action here on the floor of the House of Representatives where we, at least most of us, voted to build for the future, voted to put in place those infrastructure improvements, not for yesterday, not to rebuild just what was there that was destroyed, but, rather, to build for the future onslaught of a storm coming into New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, or other parts of this Nation.
To be prepared. The Boy Scout motto: Be prepared. Benjamin Franklin: An ounce of prevention is worth a dollar of cure. These are truisms that have been with us forever, and today we want to talk about infrastructure investment, the kind of things that were done here on the floor, some $33 billion going not only for immediate relief, but to build the infrastructure necessary to protect and prepare for the next storm.
Joining me today in this discussion, at least at the outset, is my colleague from New York, Paul Tonko. We often meet here on the floor. We sometimes call this the East Coast/West Coast show. I'm from California. Representative Tonko is from New York.
And you were there, not only for this storm, but for the previous storm, and that was less than 18 months ago. Let's talk about these things, Mr. Tonko.