Chairwoman Lowey Statement to House Rules Committee on H.R. 268, Supplemental Appropriations Act
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:
Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the opportunity to come before the Rules Committee today to discuss House Democrats’ legislation to meet the urgent needs of our fellow Americans affected by recent natural disasters.
Across the country, we have watched as hurricanes have pummeled Florida and the Carolinas, wildfires have burned large swathes of the West, 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. To do so, we must have the federal government open and operating. I have submitted an amendment to this bill to immediately reopen the federal government and pay federal employees through February 8. That will allow federal agencies to begin carrying out the vital work that we are funding in this bill.
In addition, my amendment will ensure that the federal government is working for the people, provide certainty for federal employees, and give President Trump and Congress time to negotiate on border security and immigration policy.
I request an appropriate rule to bring this critical legislation to the floor and I urge you to include my amendment for a CR through February 8 in this legislation.
Mr. Chairman, this legislation is a critical first step to meeting our fellow citizens’ urgent needs. It will be made even stronger if it ends the Trump Shutdown.