Congressman Hoyer Speaks on Natural Disasters

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Transcript: 

I thank the gentleman for yielding. i rise in opposition to this bill. now, all of us are for a continuing resolution which keeps the government in business. in the past on both sides of the aisle we have talked about clean c.r.'s. clean c.r.'s in the short-term, that's going until november 18, to keep government running. i was hopeful we would have such a c.r. this time. so that we would not continue to give to the american public the feeling that we can't come to agreement. i was not in the appropriations committee, the gentleman, my good friend from idaho says this was an amendment that was not opposed in committee. i don't know whether mr. price would agree with that. i don't know what the facts on that were. but let me say this, this is a pay-for that is extraordinarily controversial on our side of the aisle. because the message we got from america, as we were home and as we get today is we need to create jobs. we need to grow the economy. we perceive on this side of the aisle as having selected a pay-for which by the way paid for for fema disaster aid as i understand it from staff has never happened before. no precedent for doing this. and let me give you an example that will we'll all understand. your water heater -- that we'll all understand. your water heater goes out at 2:00 a.m. in the morning. your family is going to get up in the morning and you need your water heater right away. so you go out and buy the water heater, what do you do? you charge it. because it's an emergency, you've got to get it online. we have loot of people who have suffered -- we have a lot of people who have suffered an emergency assault by hurricane, by tornado, by fire, by earthquake and they need help now. and historically we have given help now and have not gotten into a debate about what priority do we undermine in that process. we respond to the true emergency. now, we've had a lot of emergencies and mr. rogers and i have been here a long time, they were not really emergencies, we claimed they were emergencies so we didn't have to pay for them under our rules. but there is no one i think in this body or in this country who doesn't believe that irene caused a legitimate emergency. not feigned, not used for the purposes of justifying where we may go. longstanding precedent in both chambers has been to respond to disasters immediately by getting victims the help they need. just as a family can't budget in advance for car breaking down or the water heater or something as i mentioned, we have provided in the agreement that we just made just a few weeks ago for head room for exactly these kinds of emergencies. $11 billion. however, we did not provide that for 2011, but, again, 2011 is when the emergency occurred and when the money is needed, now. the senate just passed a disaster relief bill that adheres to this precedent and it passed with overwhelming -- well, not overwhelming, significant bipartisan support. unfortunately republicans here insist on breaking with this commonsense precedent and with their colleagues in the senate and demand that responding to an emergency be offset by cutting elsewhere. again, let me precisely say on emergency, fema funding directed at disaster relief. now, the problem we have is that the target for paying for this is what we perceive to be a job creator. so as a result i would ask that we reject this bill. we have some time left to do another c.r. that we ought to agree on in a bipartisan way. a clean c.r., short-term so, that, yes, we can, as the gentleman from idaho said, get on with our business. and i urge my colleagues to oppose this bill and yield back the balance of my time.