Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi took to the House floor today to call on Members to pass critical disaster relief funding for victims of Hurricane Sandy. Below are the Leader’s remarks:
“Thank you. Thank you Madam Chair, Madam Speaker. I thank the gentle lady for yielding, I congratulate her on assuming the ranking position on the Appropriations Committee, and how good it is for our country and for the people affected by Hurricane, by superstorm Sandy, that Congresswoman Lowey, now Ranking Member Lowey, is in the position she is in to fight for their needs as the senior Democrat on the Appropriations Committee. Thank you for your leadership. And thank you, Mr. Rogers, for yours as well.
“This should be a day that we shed all of our disagreements about political differences and the rest and come together to prayerfully meet the needs of the people of our country. Whether it’s California with earthquakes, droughts, fires, floods, whatever. Whether it was Iowa with the floods, Missouri was so affected – Joplin – of course Katrina, emblazoned in our minds as a challenge, and Hurricane Ike on the heels of that. We all across our country have experienced natural disasters which have had a direct impact on the lives of the American people. I really do believe that for all the purposes that people send us to Congress, or elect us to public office, whether it’s a county executive or a Member of Congress, they expect us to do what is right for them when they are in, most in need of our help. Many things we can do for ourselves, but some things are just beyond the most determined, resourceful, operational person to do. And that is when a natural disaster strikes.
“So, while we have had our conversations about what should be in the bill and how the bill should be bifurcated, or in this case trifurcated, and the rest of it, let us hope that when we have this vote today, it will sweep away some of the concerns that people have about whether this assistance is going to actually show up. Seventy-nine days, 79 days since Hurricane Sandy struck the region – 1, 2 punch, last year it was Irene who struck much of the same area and some of the people haven’t really fully recovered from that whether it was the small business owner, homeowner, or whatever, and now Sandy is just a tremendous force. Others have talked about what – how do you mitigate for such a thing, how do you address issues that relate to climate change, we’ll save that conversation for another day but recognize its importance in this discussion. How do you mitigate for rebuilding and that’s important in terms of the recourses that we’re putting to bear on this problem.
“So let us today try to extract from the minds and the hearts and souls of the people who were affected any thought that the assistance will not be there. They know there is a lot of making up they have to do restore the lives and businesses and home that they had before. They should also know that when we say: ‘let us pray for the victims of Hurricane Sandy’ we’re just not saying a prayer and that should be a substitute for us honoring our commitment as a country to our people, but that our prayers are accompanied by our best intentions and our best actions.
“Actions, not just words, for them. This is one of the longest delays of congressional action in response to a major natural disaster in recent history. For many of us, again, who’ve ever seen or can confirm the aftermath of a hurricane, or tornado, an earthquake, whatever, we know that every single day is too long to wait. Hope can never come fast enough, we cannot let another moment, hour, day go by without giving the biggest possible vote of confidence and hope to the people of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and in some, I understand, in Pennsylvania.
“So we’ve had our say, we’ve made our points known, the justification has been established, the documentation of need is clear, the bipartisan support of the Governor of New Jersey, the Governor of New York, the Governor of Connecticut, and others stands ready to implement these resources with the most integrity, the most effectiveness, certainly the most speed – witness the actions of the Mayor of New York, I smile when I say that because Mayors, they just like to get a job done, and Governor’s too.
“So, let us as these executive and county executives and the rest weigh in, let us do our part to honor the social compact that we have with the American people that the federal government will be there in time of natural disaster, that this is an emergency and we recognize it as so. And that we honor the hopes, dreams, and aspirations of the people affected by it.
“So, I hope that we can have an overwhelming, bipartisan vote because, from a practical standpoint – I think that ideally, and with our sense of idealism that would be the right thing to do – but it’s a practical matter, you just never know what mother nature may have in store for you in your region and you would certainly the embrace of the entire nation around you in your area for your constituents, for your communities, for our country.
“So, I urge a very strong, bipartisan vote. I thank our colleagues on both sides of the aisle for making this vote today possible and urge, again, urge an ‘aye’ vote and yield back the balance of my time.”