Apr 01 2019

Shelby Urges Senate to Support Disaster Aid for Alabama and Nation

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today delivered the following remarks on the Senate floor prior to a procedural vote on emergency supplemental appropriations legislation that will help millions of Americans recover and rebuild from recent natural disasters.  The measure – which provides $13.45 billion in supplemental funding for states and territories recently ravaged by tornadoes, flooding, hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes, volcanoes, typhoons, and other such events – includes resources to address 2018 and 2019 disasters as well as $600 million in nutrition assistance for Puerto Rico.  The Senate will vote on the motion to proceed to the legislation today.

Senator Shelby stated that, “There is broad agreement on both sides of the aisle that this legislation should address 2018 disasters, and both my amendment and the underlying bill do this.  There are, however, two glaring differences.  First, the Shelby amendment provides assistance to those affected by 2019 disasters; the underlying bill does not.  Second, the Shelby amendment has the support of the President; the underlying bill does not.  This assistance is not just for those whose lives were destroyed by the tornado that recently hit my home state of Alabama.  It is also for those whose homes and crops and livestock have been swept away by catastrophic flooding in the Midwest. … We should not further delay this assistance; those in need must not be forced to wait any longer.”

Senator Shelby’s full remarks, as prepared, are as follows:

“I rise today to urge my colleagues to vote for cloture on the Shelby amendment.

“My amendment provides critical resources to those impacted by a wide range of natural disasters in 2018 - fires, earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes and tornadoes.

“It also includes funding to begin to address some of the 2019 disaster damage.

“This funding is essential to aid our fellow Americans who are working to pick up the pieces and move on.

“There is broad agreement on both sides of the aisle that this legislation should address 2018 disasters, and both my amendment and the underlying bill do this.

“There are, however, two glaring differences.

“First, the Shelby amendment provides assistance to those affected by 2019 disasters; the underlying bill does not.

“Second, the Shelby amendment has the support of the President; the underlying bill does not.

“This assistance is not just for those whose lives were destroyed by the tornado that recently hit my home state of Alabama.

“It is also for those whose homes and crops and livestock have been swept away by catastrophic flooding in the Midwest.

“Thus far, my Democratic colleagues have been unwilling to help these people unless their demands are met.

“What are their demands?  Not more resources for 2018 or 2019 disasters.  No, instead they demand nearly a billion dollars more for Puerto Rico.

“Mr. President, we all agree that Puerto Rico was devastated in 2017 by Hurricane Maria.

“That is why Congress provided Puerto Rico billions and billions of aid dollars in a supplemental last March.

“Yet, much of this funding has not yet been spent.

“In fact, the Department of Housing and Urban Development recently reported that Puerto Rico has $1.5 billion in Community Development Block Grant funding available but has only spent $42,000.

“Why then are my Democratic colleagues seeking to include $431 million more for Community Development Block Grants for Puerto Rico, but not one dollar for folks in the Midwest who continue to watch the floodwaters rise?

“The one piece of Puerto Rico funding we agree is essential – in fact, urgent - is nutrition assistance.

“That is why my amendment includes $600 million to provide the people of Puerto Rico the food safety net they need.

“Mr. President, we need to move forward with this disaster package so those who have thus far received nothing from this Congress - those in desperate need of assistance - can move on with their lives.

“We should not further delay this assistance; those in need must not be forced to wait any longer.

“I wholeheartedly agree with my colleagues who said in a recent letter to Senate and House leadership, ‘providing desperately needed relief to impacted communities should be a bipartisan, bicameral priority and continued inaction is unacceptable.’

“I hope we will all join together to provide assistance to those who urgently need it, regardless of whether the state we represent has been struck by disasters covered in this bill.

“Mr. President, only one of the two options before the Senate seeks to help everyone impacted by disasters and can be signed into law - the Shelby amendment.

“So again, I urge my colleagues to vote yes on cloture on the Shelby amendment.  Thank you." 

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