Nearly three months ago the East Coast of the United States was directly hit by Hurricane Sandy, resulting in the second costliest storm in our history. While Congress has historically come together to support regions devastated by natural disasters, New York, New Jersey and other states hit by the storm continue to wait for federal aid to help rebuild their homes, businesses, and vital transportation infrastructure.
This week, when the House considers the supplemental Disaster Relief Appropriations Act, I ask that you vote in favor of both the $17 billion provided in Chairman Harold Rogers’ (R-KY) substitute amendment as well as the $33 billion provided in the amendment submitted by Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ). The funding provided in both amendments is critical to helping the region rebuild and move forward.
Hurricane Sandy’s path brought devastation to one of the most densely populated regions in our nation as well as one of the most traveled transportation corridors. The storm swept away bridges, flooded tunnels, wrecked rail lines, battered ports and damaged airports and air traffic control towers. The New York City subway system, the largest in the country, was put out of commission throughout the southern parts of Manhattan. And the nation’s busiest passenger rail corridor, the Northeast Corridor, suffered serious damage to its tracks and electrical systems. Commuter rail and regional transit systems also saw terrible damage to their fleets and infrastructure. These repairs will take time and dedicated investment from the federal government.
The base bill and substitute offered by Chairman Rogers provide some minimal relief funding when combined with the $9 billion for flood insurance passed two weeks ago. However, the Frelinghuysen Amendment provides the additional funding to ensure that repairs are completed in full, and that important mitigating work is done to strengthen the region’s transportation infrastructure and lessen the impact of future storms to the systems. We urge you to vote in favor of both amendments, and do so without requiring offsets.
We also urge you to vote against any amendments that will arbitrarily restrict relief funds, weaken important labor standards, or eliminate specific portions of aid from the bill. The areas ravaged by this storm have waited for too long for Congress to step up and provide the help needed. It is time for our elected leaders to stop playing political games and immediately pass this relief package.