Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi took to the House floor tonight calling on the House Republican leadership to act on behalf of families affected by Hurricane Sandy by taking action on the Senate-passed Hurricane Sandy relief bill. Below are the Leader’s remarks:
“Thank you Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, if you’ve ever had a natural disaster affect your area, or if you have ever visited a natural disaster, be it in California, my home state, or on the East Coast, or in the Midwest – whether Iowa and the floods, or Missouri in recent time, and spoke to and listened to the pain in the voices and saw the fright in the eyes of the people affected, you would wonder why we are not bringing this legislation to the floor because it isn’t about a natural disaster, it’s about human experience.
“When I was a very new Member of Congress in the late ‘80s we were affected in California by the Loma Prieta earthquake. I bring that up because the very next day after the earthquake the Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, Mr. Jaime Whitten, came to the floor of the House, without anyone going to him or asking him, or anything, went to the floor of the House and said to the people of California: ‘Congress will honor our responsibility to the American people, we will put forth what meets the needs of the people, we need to work together to get that done.’ It was such a comfort, now these were just words, it was such a comfort to the people just to hear that and to know that the Chairman would act upon that. And for the past few weeks, I know, that our colleagues from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, some in Pennsylvania, others around the areas, have been assuring their constituents and the people of their areas that the federal government would be there for them. It is a social compact, it is a – it is the most important tie they have to us – it is, again, we hear their personal stories, they’ll never been made whole, the rug has been pulled out from under them in terms of their housing, their belongings, their pictures, their memories, the character of their neighborhoods. The rug has been pulled out
“And now tonight, tonight is this Congress, this House of Representatives [is] going to pull the rug out again from them legislatively? Just to remind: the Senate of the United States, in a bipartisan fashion, passed a $6.4 billion assistance program for this natural disaster, it met the documented needs that were put forth by the people of the regions, by Governor Christie, by Governor Cuomo, by Governor Malloy, by Mayor Bloomberg, and so many others.
“So, documented need. Again, it’s not going to make everyone whole emotionally and in their personal belongings and their memories and the rest. But it is a sign of respect. We cannot let what happened stand, an act of resources will be there to try to return them to some sense of order and home and home life.
“So, I don’t know if any decision has been made. I hope not. I hope that as the leadership meets and considers a possible agenda for tomorrow they would reconsider this. Because this goes deep into the hearts of people as they feel a sense of helplessness for something they had no responsibility for – a natural disaster. I remember last year – remember last year and we visited some of the places where homes were uprooted. This earth, wind, and fire – it’s every kind of – when something like that happens, it’s the wind, it’s the water, it’s the fire, it’s every kind of thing assaulting people.
“Let’s not be part of that assault by putting doubts in their mind as to whether there’s an appreciation for what they have lost, a respect for who they are, and honoring of our social compact that the government will be there when people are in need. And, again, I harken back to Jamie Whitten who never had a moment of fear that our needs would be met. Let's not – let's just make this night pass as if it never happened, let's just replace the impression that it's out there with the idea that tomorrow we will take up the Senate bill, or take up the compromise that has been worked out to take this in two tranches. But we cannot leave here doing nothing. That would be a disgrace.
“With that, I yield back the balance of my time.”