Chairwoman Lowey Floor Statement on H.R. 268, Supplemental Appropriations Act

January 16, 2019
Press Release

House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey delivered the following remarks at the House Rules Committee in support of an appropriate rule for the House to consider H.R. 268, House Democrats' emergency disaster appropriations bill:

Madam Chair, while President Trump continues to keep our government shut down, House Democrats are committed to working for the American people. 

I am pleased to present legislation today that helps meet the urgent needs of our fellow Americans affected by recent natural disasters.

Across the country, we have watched as hurricanes have pummeled Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas, wildfires have burned large swathes of the West, volcanoes have erupted in Hawaii, and typhoons have struck territories in the Pacific. In addition to the tragic loss of life, families have lost everything, businesses have been upended, and communities have been ripped apart.

This legislation attempts to meet these needs with $12.14 billion in emergency spending.

It includes $2.96 billion to rebuild damaged infrastructure, to help communities rebuild, and to bring local economies back to life.

The legislation embraces the unique needs of farmers and rural communities, providing $1.86 billion to help them recover.

It enhances our national security and cares for our veterans and their families by funding $1.46 billion for repairs and rebuilding at damaged Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs facilities.

The bill before us meets the complex needs of disaster victims with $555 million for social services, mental health care, education, and activities that improve the prospects of dislocated workers.

Importantly, and unlike Republican legislation that was brought up in December, the bill meets the urgent health care and nutrition needs of Americans in the Northern Marianas, Guam, and American Samoa – and, yes, Puerto Rico. President Trump grossly mismanaged the response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, and since then he has added insult to injury by repeatedly trying to shortchange our fellow U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico. This bill rights that injustice.

Finally, this legislation recognizes scientific reality and the simple fact that climate change is increasing the number and severity of natural disasters. It includes $2.54 billion in resiliency funding to mitigate damage from future disasters, preventing loss of life and damage to property.

We all want to ensure that American families and communities have the resources they need to recover from recent natural disasters. However, to allow federal agencies to begin carrying out the vital work that we are funding in this bill, we must reopen the federal government.

I am pleased that the bill before us includes a Continuing Resolution to immediately reopen the federal government and pay federal employees through February 8. This Continuing Resolution ensures the federal government is working for the American people, provides certainty for federal employees, and gives President Trump and Congress time to negotiate on border security and immigration policy.

Madam Chair, this legislation is a critical first step to meeting our fellow citizens’ urgent needs as they recover from recent disasters. I urge my colleagues to join me in support of this bill.

116th Congress