Chairwoman Lowey Floor Statement on Disaster Aid Bill H.R. 2157

2019-05-10 09:25

House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey delivered the following remarks on the House Floor in support of H.R. 2157, legislation to provide relief and recovery assistance for Americans affected by recent natural disasters.

Madam Chair, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Last year, we watched hurricanes pummel Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas, wildfires burn large swathes of the West, and typhoons strike territories in the Pacific. In addition to the tragic loss of life, families lost everything, businesses were upended, and communities were ripped apart.

That is why, in January, the House passed an emergency disaster relief bill – H.R. 268 – to help our fellow Americans recover and rebuild.

Unfortunately, the bill languished for months in the Senate over assistance for Puerto Rico. And as it sat there, floods battered the Midwest and tornadoes swept the South, resulting in even more destruction.

This legislation attempts to meet the needs of all of America’s disaster-stricken communities – whether in Puerto Rico or the Midwest, California or the Carolinas – with $17.2 billion in emergency spending. 

In addition to the funding provided in H.R. 268, the bill makes three critical additions:

  • It includes $1.5 billion for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for repairs to Corps projects damaged by flooding and natural disasters.
  • It provides $1 billion for Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery, with language ensuring it is spent quickly to help communities rebuild housing, businesses, and public infrastructure in the most impacted and distressed areas affected by major natural disasters.
  • And it includes $500 million for the Department of Agriculture’s Emergency Conservation Program, providing emergency funding and technical assistance to farmers and ranchers to rehabilitate farmland damaged by natural disasters.

That’s an additional $3 billion to address the urgent needs following the Midwest floods and Southern tornadoes. An additional $3 billion to rebuild damaged infrastructure, to help communities recover, and to bring local economies back to life.

American citizens are relying on our federal government to deliver a robust disaster relief package. They’ve waited long enough and, frankly, they can’t afford to wait any longer.

Further delays will only leave communities more vulnerable and exposed to future natural disasters. With Atlantic hurricane season beginning in just four weeks and looming summer heat increasing wildfire risk, we must act now.

Madam Chair, this legislation is a critical and long-overdue step to meeting our fellow citizens’ urgent needs. I urge my colleagues to support it.

I reserve the balance of my time.


116th Congress