NJ Legislators Comment About Congress’ Failure to Vote on Sandy Relief Bill

January 4, 2013
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“Speaker Boehner must immediately put the Sandy disaster relief bill up for a vote so the House can pass it. The Senate passed a bipartisan bill, and it’s time for Speaker Boehner to put politics aside and allow the House to take up and pass this emergency aid bill. People are suffering and the longer the House waits to act, the longer it will take to get aid to victims.  When other disasters have struck our nation, we have worked in a bipartisan fashion to come to help those in need.  This disgraceful action by House Republican leadership to block critical aid for struggling families is not the American way, and Speaker Boehner must allow a vote today.”

U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., in a prepared statement.


“My district was devastated by this storm. I would ask that Speaker Boehner come to Sea Bright, New Jersey, drive through Sea Bright, New Jersey. The town that has less than 2,000 people. The business district is totally destroyed. One or two stores have reopened. The rest are still closed. Most of the people still have not been able to return to the town.

“Go to Union Beach, New Jersey, also in my district, where you can see that now everything is exposed. We still have people that do not have a place to stay, that are looking for an apartment or staying in motels or looking for a trailer to be placed next to their home and still don’t have it.

“We need to do … rebuild now. We need to act now. We can’t wait for the next Congress or another couple weeks or another couple months.

“What I don’t understand, Mr. Speaker, is how is it possible that this has become a political issue? It is clear that we are here today (Jan. 2), we can vote on this. The votes are clearly there. We should have an open debate. That’s what democracy is all about.

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“And all of a sudden because the Tea Party or some conservative element is worried that they have to vote on another spending bill, all of a sudden the Speaker says we can’t do this today. This is politicizing a situation that should not be political. And it is another example of what I call the do-nothing Congress. This Congress did very little. It has fewer bills passed in anybody’s memory.

“Rather than go out on this negative note about not bringing up an emergency because of the hurricane, one of the devastating natural disasters, why not do something positive on a bipartisan basis, Mr. Speaker? Bring this up. Let us have an open debate. We are still here. And don’t let this congress die on this negative note. Let it build on a positive note so when we come in and we’re sworn in on Thursday we can show that we can work on a bipartisan basis. I have never seen anything like it. To me it is just deplorable.”

U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, D-6th delivered these remarks on the floor of the House, Jan. 2.


“Well, you’ve heard it. Our constituents’ lives were devastated by the Sandy disaster. It has now been about nine weeks since Hurricane Sandy brought the winds and the tidal surges. In Central New Jersey, in Connecticut, in New York, people are hurting. Towns have exhausted their emergency funds and exhausted their borrowing capacity.

“In other disasters, such as the disaster associated with Katrina or with wildfires or with any number of other natural disasters, this body has acted, and aid has been provided quickly. And yet today (Jan. 2), the Speaker is going to allow the 112th Congress to adjourn before passing the much-needed disaster relief package.

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“The Senate acted on this bill. The aid package here was well-constructed; it was ready; all we needed was a vote. And the delay is significant. It adds significantly to the hurt. It is not an exaggeration to say that lives are on the line.  People are living wherever they can. They don’t have the shelter. They don’t have the businesses. They don’t have their lives. And the Speaker just walks away. That compounds the disaster. The delay compounds the disaster.

“It has been said, ‘Well, FEMA has some money already in their account that will last for many weeks.’  But we’re not just talking about FEMA. We’re talking about HUD – more than a billion dollars, actually billions, of housing aid. The Army Corps of Engineers, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Department of the Interior, the Agriculture Department for food and emergency watershed protection, the EPA for safe drinking water – all of this was in this well-constructed package.

“Now, it’s often been said that the governing principle of the Republican leadership is, ‘You’re on your own.’ And that might actually be a conscientious principle if they really believe in their hearts that your Social Security should be privately invested or you should pay for a college without government help.  But this – to say ‘you’re on your own’ after a disaster is inconsiderate, it breaks our trust, it violates an understanding, and it hurts people.”

U.S. Rep. Rush Holt, NJ-12, delivered these remarks on the floor of the House, Jan. 2.

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