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Congressional Record2017/09/06Senate | House | Extensions

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[Pages H6660-H6667]
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         MAKING SUPPLEMENTAL APPROPRIATIONS FOR DISASTER RELIEF

Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and agree to the resolution (H. Res. 502) providing for the concurrence by the House in the Senate amendments to H.R. 601, with an amendment.

The Clerk read the title of the resolution.

The text of the resolution is as follows: H. Res. 502 Resolved, That upon the adoption of this resolution the House shall be considered to have taken from the Speaker's table the bill, H.R. 601, with the Senate amendments thereto, and to have-- (1) concurred in the Senate amendments numbered 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, and 8; and (2) concurred in the Senate amendment numbered 6 with the following amendment: In lieu of the matter proposed to be inserted by Senate amendment numbered 6, insert the following: “(C) there is the greatest opportunity to reduce childhood and adolescence exposure to or engagement in violent extremism or extremist ideologies.”. DIVISION B--DISASTER RELIEF APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2017 The following sums are appropriated, out of any money in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, for disaster relief for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2017, and for other purposes, namely: DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster relief fund For an additional amount for “Disaster Relief Fund” for major disasters declared pursuant to the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 5121 et seq.), $7,400,000,000, to remain available until expended: Provided, That such amount is designated by the Congress as being for an emergency requirement pursuant to section 251(b)(2)(A)(i) of the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985: Provided further, That the amount designated under this heading as an emergency requirement pursuant to section 251(b)(2)(A)(i) of the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985 shall be available only if the President subsequently so designates such amount and transmits such designation to the Congress. [[Page H6661]] SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION disaster loans program account (including transfer of funds) For an additional amount for the “Disaster Loans Program Account” for the cost of direct loans authorized by section 7(b) of the Small Business Act, $450,000,000, to remain available until expended: Provided, That up to $225,000,000 may be transferred to and merged with “Salaries and Expenses” for administrative expenses to carry out the disaster loan program authorized by section 7(b) of the Small Business Act: Provided further, That none of the funds provided under this heading may be used for indirect administrative expenses: Provided further, That the amount provided under this heading is designated as an emergency requirement pursuant to section 251(b)(2)(A)(i) of the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985: Provided further, That the amount designated under this heading as an emergency requirement pursuant to section 251(b)(2)(A)(i) of the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985 shall be available only if the President subsequently so designates such amount and transmits such designation to the Congress. This division may be cited as the “Disaster Relief Appropriations Act, 2017”.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Frelinghuysen) and the gentlewoman from New York (Mrs. Lowey) each will control 20 minutes.

The Chair recognizes the gentleman from New Jersey. General Leave

Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may have 5 legislative days in which to revise and extend their remarks and include extraneous material on H. Res. 502.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from New Jersey?

There was no objection.

Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present H. Res. 502, a resolution making emergency appropriations to allow the Federal Government to continue the vital response and recovery efforts that are helping the hundreds of thousands of victims of Hurricane Harvey.

Our thoughts go out to all the people of Texas and Louisiana who are coping with the aftermath of this storm and its catastrophic flooding.

As one of the Nation's greatest national disasters continues to unfold before our eyes, this Congress must ensure that our Federal Government is able to meet the short and long-term needs of disaster victims.

I believe that every type of resource ought to be utilized to support rescue, relief, and recovery efforts. I want to reassure the people of Texas and Louisiana that we are there for them in their time of greatest need.

The House Appropriations Committee has already approved a $1 billion reprogramming request for FEMA last week, which has allowed the agency to continue to meet the most immediate needs in the region.

It has become clear that, in the face of a disaster of such magnitude, much more is needed to assist these states and local communities as they recover and rebuild.

Last Friday, we received the administration's initial request for supplemental funding for Hurricane Harvey. We are grateful for the speed of this request, and, recognizing the urgency of the situation, we brought this resolution to the floor today. H. Res. 502 contains $7.4 billion for FEMA's Disaster Relief Fund, which will allow FEMA to continue its efforts related to Harvey as well as any additional disasters that may strike. H. Res. 502 also includes $450 million to support the Small Business Administration's disaster loan program that will help small businesses and homeowners come back from the disasters.

Working closely with the Texas and Louisiana members, the Appropriations Committee has done its due diligence to guarantee that this funding will make best use of taxpayers' dollars. {time} 1030

I want to thank all of our Federal agencies, first responders from around the Nation, the thousands of volunteers who immediately responded, and all those who have been working tirelessly to make sure that we meet the needs of the people of Texas and Louisiana.

Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

Mrs. LOWEY. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, the devastation in Texas and Louisiana from Hurricane Harvey warrants swift congressional action. I am pleased we are here today to ensure that FEMA can continue to support the States affected by this disaster.

The $7.4 billion for FEMA and $450 million for the Small Business Administration in H. Res. 502 are only a first step in a long process that will require a long-term Federal presence.

I represent areas, Mr. Speaker, affected by Superstorm Sandy and understand, firsthand, the need for Federal intervention when storms overwhelm State and local capacity. Following Sandy, the last administration requested and Congress approved funding for resiliency to ensure that future generations can mitigate the damage from storms that have grown in intensity.

We can argue about the effects of climate change on storms, but we must all agree that our communities must receive much-needed mitigation funding to protect lives and livelihoods in future storms and to prevent more costly damage.

Despite the fact that some of the Representatives for areas affected by Hurricane Harvey heavily criticized and voted against the assistance provided in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, I wholeheartedly support the funding in this resolution and expect a much larger request from the administration, including funding to mitigate damage from future storms.

Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Carter), the chairman of the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee.

Mr. CARTER of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of the supplemental funding for Hurricane Harvey relief. H. Res. 502 totals $7.85 billion in emergency funding, including $7.4 billion for FEMA's Disaster Relief Fund. This supplemental funding is a necessary first step toward assisting our communities in immediate need.

However, rebuilding and recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Harvey will continue to require further resources and really hard work. I will continue to work closely alongside my colleagues in the Texas delegation, the Louisiana delegation, and the Appropriations Committee to meet the needs of our neighbors in the southeastern part of our State.

My thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by this devastating storm.

Colleagues, I encourage each and every one of you to vote for this. H. Res. 502 is focused on addressing the immediate needs of those affected by Hurricane Harvey. It sends them a powerful message: that we are here and we are here for them, and we will be working hard for them throughout this recovery.

Just this morning, I saw another newsman standing waist-deep in water in Houston as it continues to recede. Let's cast our vote properly and start the recovery for the southeastern part of Texas and the western part of Louisiana.

Mrs. LOWEY. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Cuellar), a member of the Appropriations Committee.

Mr. CUELLAR. Mr. Speaker, again, I want to thank the ranking member for yielding her time, for her leadership, and for all the work she has done, and also our chairman, Mr. Frelinghuysen, for his leadership, and Chairman John Carter, one of our Texans, for bringing this important resolution to the floor.

This funding will help FEMA, which is running out of money, provide the immediate recovery and relief that we need in Texas and Louisiana. It is only a downpayment.

Normally, in rain events, we measure water in inches; during Hurricane Harvey, we measured it in feet. At the end, there were over 19 trillion gallons of water on the ground.

Hurricane Harvey killed at least 60 people, including Alonso Guillen, a DREAMer who drove over 100 miles to help rescue by boat those who first responders couldn't reach. [[Page H6662]]

Those who were evacuated will soon come home to find their homes and their memories left behind in ruin by the floodwaters. The cost of the total damages will be in the billions. Many losses, however, will be priceless: pictures of family weddings, kids' soccer games, children's favorite toy, a daughter's prom dress, or an antique that has been passed through generations.

Yet, many heroes stepped up to open up their homes, their churches, and their businesses to house those evacuees. Those efforts highlight the fact that this is not a natural disaster, but it is a national disaster, and it requires a response.

I quickly want to thank the first responders and others at the local, State, and Federal levels who bravely and selflessly provided assistance, including our friends to the south, Mexico, that are sending over trucks and trucks of assistance.

Today, we stand together not as Democrats or Republicans, but as Americans. We speak in one voice, and we stand with Houston, east Texas, and Louisiana as we continue to do the rescue and the recovery.

And as Hurricane Irma comes over to Florida and the Southeast, we, again, stand together as Americans, one team.

Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Arrington).

Mr. ARRINGTON. Mr. Speaker, in light of this unprecedented natural disaster in Houston and Louisiana, along the Gulf Coast, I want to urge my colleagues to provide the resources necessary to help them recover. We need to move quickly and we need to move responsibly, and I just urge my colleagues to act, and act now.

I am very proud of my fellow Texans for the way they have responded. I am proud of the leadership at the local level, at the State level, and I am proud, mostly, of the overwhelming, loving response of reaching out, neighbor helping neighbor, friends and folks in their community taking this responsibility head-on, not waiting on the Federal Government. We have a role, and the Federal Government ought to do all that we can to help those.

Texas is a special place, Mr. Speaker. As you know, these folks are very self-reliant. They are committed to their communities, and they are committed to loving thy neighbor. It is not just a memory verse, it is a way of life in Texas.

So, again, our thoughts and prayers are with our friends back home. I know my colleagues and neighbors in west Texas, in District 19, have sent first responder vehicles and personnel, food, and supplies. Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene, Texas, has sent, for example, 12 tons of supplies and food. So we are with you guys. We love you.

As Trump said, “Texans can handle anything.” He is right.

God bless Texas, and God bless America.

Mrs. LOWEY. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Gene Green).

Mr. GENE GREEN of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I want to thank our ranking member not only for yielding to me, but also for her call a couple of weeks ago.

And I want to thank our colleague from Lubbock, Texas. We have a lot of water we can send to west Texas, but appreciate the support not just from Texas, but all across the country. People are coming in everywhere.

And I see me colleague, Brian Babin, who is my neighbor. We are not Democrats and Republicans; we are Americans. And that is what we are seeing. And our Speaker pro tempore of the House, also, is neighbor to both of us.

But I rise in support of the hundreds of thousands of victims of Hurricane Harvey in Houston and Harris County and throughout Texas, and I call on Congress to immediately pass emergency funding to help victims from this unprecedented disaster.

Our district is in northeast and southeast Houston and Harris County. We are familiar with hurricanes and tropical storms. We were hit by Tropical Storm Allison in 2001, hit by Hurricane Ike in 2008.

Harvey's disaster and destruction is beyond anything witnessed in living memory in Texas, flooding over 100,000 homes in Harris County alone and killing at least 60 people, including 12 innocent victims in our district.

Countless lives in Houston and along the Gulf Coast have been put on hold: families who cannot return to their flooded homes, children whose schools were damaged, mothers and fathers who cannot go back to work.

I have a school district in northeast Harris County, Sheldon ISD. They have eight schools. Four of those schools are so damaged they can't be reopened.

Houstonians and Texans are proud and independent people. We take pride in our can-do attitude, as witnessed by our brave first responders and countless volunteers who rescued neighbors during the worst of the flooding.

I urge all my colleagues to vote for this critical emergency funding that will help the people of Houston and Texas on the road to recovery. But this is not the only time we will need this emergency funding.

Mr. Speaker, I include in the Record an article in Monday's Houston Chronicle on the dedication of our doctors and public health workers at the Texas Medical Center in Houston during the worst of Harvey. [From the Houston Chronicle] My 60-Hour Shift in the ER During Hurricane Harvey (By Benjamin Gold) I was on call at St. Luke's when the major flooding began. I decided to stay in the hospital, along with many other residents, attendings, nurses and support staff. It turns out that a hospital is a fantastic place to be in a crisis--it has food, water, electricity, even Wi-Fi. I ended up staying there until Monday, taking shifts with other residents as we watched over our patients. We even saw some new ones who somehow managed to make their way through floodwaters to the emergency room. Here are some of the things I saw during those 60 hours. I saw nurses working for almost 20 hours straight and managing way more patients than usual, refusing to leave them--they didn't know when the next nurses would arrive. I saw the cafeteria transformed into a support station with round-the-clock free meals. The lunch tables transformed into war rooms as the various medical departments strategized about how to staff the hospital despite being desperately under capacity. I got meals from the same cafeteria worker-- Anne--on Friday night, Saturday morning, Saturday evening, Sunday morning, Sunday evening and Monday morning. I saw patients placed in impossible circumstances. One, a young man with a son in the ICU at Texas Children's, recently heard that his house had flooded. He was having high fevers and coughing up yellow sputum. His chest X-ray showed he had developed a lobar pneumonia. He was pale and clammy, with bloodshot eyes. “Doc, I need go,” he told me. “I have to see my son. I have to call my wife and make sure she's safe. I can't stay here.” I was in the ICU when an impromptu meeting was held to discuss the fact that no relief would be able to come in for the foreseeable future. There were only two attendings, each taking 12-hour shifts so the other could sleep. They'd already been working for 48 hours. Midway through one of the shifts, one of the sleeping ICU doctors woke up and asked the active doctor if he was OK. “I'm cruising,” he said, smiling. He was bleary-eyed and weary, but it didn't matter. “I'm rolling,” he said and gave a thumbs-up. “I'm good to go.” My fiancee, who also is a doctor, told me that one of her patients wanted to meet me after they found out that their doctor had a significant other in the hospital. “Sure,” I said, and went over to the room. They were so appreciative of her care that they invited us to go fishing with them in Corpus Christi when this was all over. “I'm telling you, you've never seen a more beautiful place to fish your entire life. You'll stay with us, of course! It won't cost you a penny.” The man took out his iPhone and showed us pictures of a gorgeous coastline, Texas-sized sunsets and smiling nephews proudly holding up fish as big as they were. “We'll make it down there,” he said. “We'll get through this.” Finally, on Monday morning, the first wave of relief arrived, and those whose houses hadn't flooded and had clear streets were able to go home. Others weren't so lucky. The Texas Medical Center is what brought me to Houston. It has more medical schools, hospitals and nursing facilities per square foot than any other place on earth. It was incredible to see the resiliency, camaraderie and selflessness of those who work there in a crisis. Learning about what to do in a crisis is standard in medical education. But to see it in action, to see people refusing to leave until they knew their patients would be cared for, is something else entirely. It's been a grim few days, and the worst is not over. We don't know how many more casualties there might be. Untold billions in property damage has already been done. But Houstonians showed their true colors over this past weekend. I've never been prouder to be a Texan. [[Page H6663]]

Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Babin).

Mr. BABIN. Mr. Speaker, I would like to echo what everyone has said, especially my colleagues, Mr. Green and others, from Texas who have mentioned how we have pulled together. But I want to rise in strong support of this disaster relief funding for those who have been impacted by this terrible storm.

My district is in Texas 36, and it was totally devastated. All nine counties have been declared Federal disaster areas. The entire district was underwater, a vast lake, from Houston over to the Louisiana border. The devastation is truly heartbreaking.

I have traveled to each county and assisted in the recovery efforts, and I have met with the victims. H. Res. 502 provides desperately needed resources to help our fellow Americans put their lives back together again and provides a hand up, not a handout. Texans don't want a handout, but we do need the help and the hand up.

In the midst of this devastation, the entire world has seen the resiliency, compassion, and determination of the people of Texas, and I am truly inspired by the incredible stories of goodness.

We have had multiple disasters, especially in my district--multiple-- even three disaster declarations for some of my counties over the past 3 years. I have met and talked to some of my constituents who had just gotten back into their homes 2, 3 months ago from a flood that impacted us last year. One has told me she still had the price tags on their furniture when she woke up during the night to see water in her house. These are the kinds of things that we are seeing.

But in the midst, as I have said, our churches, our first responders, our private citizens, businesses, people from out of State--and I want to especially commend the State of Louisiana, who came over and provided hundreds of boat teams for us--all around the district, people are helping one another.

I just want to urge my colleagues to join me in supporting this very, very much-needed funding and showing our fellow Americans that we stand with them in this terrible, terrible time.

I have been around a long time. I have seen storms--Hurricane Audrey in the 1950s--and this storm, Hurricane Harvey, I have never seen one like this before.

Mrs. LOWEY. Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to yield 3 minutes to the gentlewoman from Texas (Ms. Jackson Lee), who we know was struggling with her fellow Texans and trying to be as helpful as she could during this horrible, horrible disaster. {time} 1045

Ms. JACKSON LEE. I thank the Speaker, and I thank the gentlewoman from New York. Having known the devastation of hurricanes just a couple of years ago, I thank her, and along with her as the ranking minority member, the chairman as well, both coming from the region where they faced the same devastation.

We come together united. We come bipartisan. We come as friends. As I said at the NRG shelter just a few days ago, we have hope. We have hope. We are grateful that we are beginning the process of recovery with the over $7 billion now being allotted for disaster recovery, $450 million of that being for small businesses. The need is great.

Twelve days ago, on August 25, Hurricane Harvey hit this coast, and it hit Texas in a very hard way. To put in perspective the devastation brought by Hurricane Harvey, the volume of water that fell on Houston and other affected areas of Texas and Louisiana could fill more than 24,000 Astrodomes. Hurricane Harvey was a thousand-year storm. It claimed many, many lives. Twenty-one trillion gallons of rainfall fell in Texas. Sustained winds exceeded 130 miles an hour.

I cannot thank, enough, those who gathered and helped, from the local officials, from Mayor Sylvester Turner and Judge Emmett, to Mayor Aaron in Humble, to Mayor Diaz in Jacinto City--cities in my congressional district--to the many volunteers, the Cajun Navy. And might I thank the Texas National Guard--they were standing up--the Marines, the Navy, and, of course, the Army. We traveled with them. I thank the Military Museum of Armed Forces that traveled with me to give out food. We are still in need.

Thousands of people without apartments who have been evicted have been told to go. As I walked the streets of Humble, Texas, in my district, piles and piles and piles of rubbish, people's homes and possessions, even though they had their family and lives, all of their possessions out on the front.

This is a time for us to rise without obstacles. This is a time for us to ensure that all people can be protected. I would like to highlight the DREAMer that died, Alonso Guillen, who came all the way from Lufkin, Texas, just be able to save those who he saw were in need. We need to be able to ensure that he is not discriminated against or my constituents in certain parts of my district who are afraid to seek help simply because they are unstatused.

My friends, I know we can find a pathway forward. I know that we can find a pathway to reauthorize DACA and to do it as soon as possible in tribute to Alonso Guillen, who died with friends when he brought his boat, of his own accord, to be able to come and save those.

Let me tell you what we need. We need housing resources. We need to ensure that we have housing resources to make sure that the people who were evicted can make sure that they have a way to have a home. We need small business resources.

I want to thank the gentlewoman for her time, and I know that we will be working together and making a difference for those who were impacted by Hurricane Harvey.

My prayers for those who are impacted by Hurricane Irma.

Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 3672, which provides $7.85 billion in supplemental appropriations as the Congress's initial response to the massive damaged inflicted on Southeast Texas and Louisiana by Hurricane Harvey.

The speed with which the bipartisan leadership drafted and shepherded this legislation to the floor bodes well for the major challenges that must be met and overcome if Congress if the victims of Hurricane Harvey are to recover from the storm's awful wrath and rebuild their decimated communities.

I thank Chairman Frelinghuysen and Ranking Member Lowey, and Speaker Ryan and Democratic Leader Pelosi, for bringing this initial supplemental funding bill to the floor in a timely manner and which lets the people of Texas and Louisiana know that the American people stand in solidarity with them in their moment of heartbreak and anguish.

Mr. Speaker, just 12 days, on August 25, 2017, Hurricane Harvey made landfall for the first time in the state of Texas, just north of the city of Corpus Christi.

Before it was finished, Hurricane Harvey dropped 21 trillion gallons of rainfall on Texas and Louisiana, most of it on the Houston Metroplex.

To put in perspective the devastation wrought by Hurricane Harvey, the volume of water that fell on Houston and other affected areas of Texas and Louisiana could fill more than 24,000 Astrodomes or supply the water for the raging Niagara Falls for 15 days.

Whole sections of Houston, Beaumont, Bayou City, Port Arthur, and other cities were underwater for days.

Hurricane Harvey was a 1,000 year storm that has to date claimed the lives of at least 30 persons, including a 34-year veteran of the Houston Police Department and a family of six who perished in Greens Bayou while trying to evacuate their flooded home and community.

It also claimed the life of a Dreamer, Alonso Guillen, a young Houstonian who came to Texas from Mexico as a teenager, and who died when his boat capsized while he was rescuing survivors of the flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey.

Neither Houston nor any city in the nation has ever experienced flooding of the magnitude caused by Hurricane Harvey.

The statistics are staggering. 21 trillion gallons of rainfall fell in Texas and Louisiana in the first five days of the storm.

The estimated maximum sustained winds exceeded 130 miles per hour as the hurricane made landfall near Rockport, Texas on August 25.

A record 4,323 days, which is nearly 12 years, elapsed since a major hurricane (Category 3 or above) made landfall in the United States prior to Hurricane Harvey; the last Category 3 hurricane to hit the United States was Hurricane Wilma in 2005, the same year Hurricane Katrina destroyed much of New Orleans.

The city of Cedar Bayou received 51.88 inches of rainfall, breaking the record for rainfall from a single storm in the continental United States; my city of Houston received more than 5o inches of rainfall.

More than 13,000 people have been rescued in the Houston area and more than [[Page H6664]] 30,000 persons are expected to be forced out of their homes due to the storm.

More than 8,800 federal personnel were staff deployed to help respond to Hurricane Harvey, supplying approximately 2.9 million meals, 2.8 million liters of water, 37,000 tarps, and 130 generators.

In the first three days of the storm, more than 49,000 homes that had suffered flood damage and more than 1,000 homes were completely destroyed in the storm.

Mr. Speaker, valiant emergency responders are overextended and citizen rescues have become a critical source of assistance in saving lives.

Local authorities closed major freeways, airports, and schools.

Emergency shelters are filled to capacity and efforts to rescue residents continue around the clock.

The anticipated cost of removing debris is expected to dwarf the $70 million spent by Houston removing debris after Hurricane Ike in 2008.

We do not yet know the full cost in human lives exacted by Hurricane Harvey.

But what we do know is that the costs of recovery and reconstruction will far exceed any natural disaster in memory; best estimates place the cost in the range of $150-$200 billion.

Mr. Speaker, there is much work to be done in my city of Houston, and across the areas affected by the terrible, awesome storm that will be forever known simply as Hurricane Harvey.

That is why I strongly support the legislation pending before us appropriating $7.85 billion as the initial response of the Congress to the damage caused by an epic storm.

I must emphasize that what we are considering here is the initial response because much more funding will be needed for Houston--the nation's fourth largest city--and Southeast Texas to recover and rebuild.

For that reason, I urge all Members to join me in support of H.R. 3672 and to commit to providing our fellow Americans in Texas and Louisiana all of the help and support they need to restore their communities to their previous greatness.

Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Culberson), from the Commerce, Justice, Science Subcommittee.

Mr. CULBERSON. Mr. Speaker, to everyone in Texas and Louisiana who has suffered the loss of a loved one or the loss of everything they own in this catastrophic flood, we are here today to tell you that help is on the way and to say thank you.

Help is on the way because today, in the Congress, there are no Republicans, there are no Democrats. We are all Americans here today, unified in our determination to move swiftly to help all those poor people who have suffered so much as a result of this catastrophic storm.

It is an unparalleled disaster in our Nation's history. My district suffered. We all suffered, all of us in southeast Texas, southwest Louisiana.

My brother and his wife lost everything. Their home is still underwater. My in-laws lost everything. Their home was destroyed, everything they owned and loved, but they are just personal possessions.

No one lost their lives. I can't imagine if you lost a loved one in this catastrophe.

But help is on the way. We are all unified here today. We are all working together to make sure that we get this immediate infusion of cash into the Disaster Relief Fund to help these people who have suffered so much and been displaced so abruptly and so catastrophically.

I want to thank you, Mr. Chairman, for bringing this to the floor so quickly, thank our leadership for working together to get this done. I want to thank President Trump and his wife for personally donating $1 million to the relief fund for the victims of Hurricane Harvey. I want to thank, also, all of the first responders who sacrificed so much to save so many lives. I want to thank especially the people of America who stepped up to help the people of Houston.

I spent all of last week out in neighborhoods in boats and on trucks and in waders helping pull people and their property and their pets out of their homes.

Last Saturday, I ran into a group of guys, four guys, with a bass boat that drove all the way from Florida. They saw the catastrophe on television and said, “We can either sit here and watch this or we can go help our fellow Americans,” and they jumped in their truck and they drove that bass boat all the way to Texas to help us.

A guy from Michigan showed up in our neighborhoods just to help.

I want to thank my friend and my colleague, Congressman Garret Graves of Louisiana, who called me on the second day of the disaster and said: The Cajun Navy is on the way.

I said: What? I didn't know there was such a thing as the Cajun Navy.

Garret said: 110 trucks are on the way to Texas towing 100 boats loaded with thousands of meals of jambalaya and red beans and rice and diapers and water and radios and everything that you need to recover from a storm.

They just did it, our neighbors.

I have never been prouder to be an American, never been prouder to be a Texan or a Houstonian, to see people step up and help each other out of the goodness of their hearts, because we are Americans and we are the greatest nation in the history of civilization, and it is because we are all self-reliant. It is because we all look after each other as a community. We all love each other. We love our family, our God. We respect the law.

This great Nation that was founded on the rule of law is a bond that connects all of us, and we saw it in this disaster, and we thank you all from the bottom of our heart. Help is on the way.

Mrs. LOWEY. Mr. Speaker, before I yield to our next speaker, I would just thank Mr. Culberson. I just want to thank you, Mr. Culberson, because, of course, we are all totally supportive of this aid package, but I remember that you were the only Member from the majority in Texas who supported our Sandy package. I just wanted to, at this time, thank you again for your generosity and your warm heart for every American.

Mr. CULBERSON. Will the gentlewoman yield?

Mrs. LOWEY. I yield to the gentleman from Texas.

Mr. CULBERSON. Today, we are all Americans, arm in arm.

Mrs. LOWEY. Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Al Green).

Mr. AL GREEN of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I also thank the ranking member for her kind words. I would like to thank the chairperson for bringing this to the floor, both of them.

Mr. Speaker, this is a seminal moment in time, a moment in time that can shape the rest of our time. This is an opportunity for those of us who contend that we are our brother's keeper to, in fact, become our brother's keeper. You see, you can't be your brother's keeper without keeping your brother. This is a chance to be your brother's keeper. This is a chance for the unity that we express when we are before the cameras to manifest itself in the votes that we cast here in Congress. This is a seminal moment in time.

This is a moment in time for us to care not only about those who live in the suites of life, but also those who dwell in the streets of life, those who live on benches, those who sleep under bridges. It is an opportunity for us to cast a vote that will send aid, send assistance to those in Houston, Texas, and all across the area that has been devastated by this monster. It is a chance for us to help them.

But this is only a downpayment, only a downpayment. There must be much more. We need help in Houston posthaste, as is the case with other places around the country that have been devastated.

We need help for housing, not only for those who had homes before the monster hit, but also for those who didn't have homes who need to transition to a place that they can call home. If home is where the heart is, where is the heart of the homeless, people who sleep under bridges? Where is the heart of the homeless?

They have to be given a place that they can call home as well, which means, at some point, we have got to have dollars appropriated for the organizations that help those who live in the streets of life: the homeless. We have got to help them, too. If we can help those in the suites, we can help those in the streets.

I would also say to my colleagues: Please understand, people who are here and undocumented have needs, too. They live in places that are horrible. I have been in their homes. I have smelled the mold. I know what it is [[Page H6665]] like to see the conditions that they dwell in. It is time for us to put aside the politics that divide us from people who need help and help those people, too. Let's send some more money to the organizations that help them.

This is a moment in time. This is a seminal moment in time. It is time for us to step up and help everyone that is harmed, not be selective. If you are in this country and you are hurting, we ought to help you. God bless you.

I thank you, Madam Leader on my side, the ranking member. I thank you again, Mr. Chairman, and I beg that we do what we can to make sure every person in this country receives the help he or she deserves. City of Houston, Houston, TX, September 1, 2017. Mr. Brock Long, FEMA Administrator, Department of Homeland Security, Washington, DC. Dear Administrator Long: The City of Houston has experienced a catastrophic event, Hurricane Harvey, and the assistance of FEMA is critical to the recovery of our families and community. We are requesting your expeditious action on the following: 100% federal reimbursement for Categories A (debris removal) & B (emergency protective measures) as was approved for Katrina, Rita and Ike. Advance funding for the Public Assistance program (all categories of work) We are seeking the initial advance funding of $300 million of which $100 million will be used for immediate debris removal. As we get more accurate damage assessment estimates, our goal is to secure total advance funding. At least 15-20 Disaster Recovery Centers to be adequately staffed throughout the City of Houston to expedite assistance to individuals Deploy 4-5 centers for each quadrant of the City Provide adequate staffing to ensure that disaster survivors are promptly assisted Funding of up to $1.75 billion for a FEMA Sheltering and Temporary Essential Power (STEP) or Rapid Repair program to expedite the return of families to their homes and contribute to a whole community recovery for approximately 50k homes. We are seeking to increase the cap of this funding to up to $35,000/home 100% advance funding and expedited processing for First Responders who lost property in the line of duty. The City of Houston wishes to serve as a pilot program for the 100 Houston Fire Department and 200 Houston Police Department personnel who had significant damage to their homes and losses due to Hurricane Harvey. Many of these First Responders are not insured. The City of Houston will also be asking HUD for an immediate release for CDBG-DR funds and seek FEMA support in this request to compliment the recovery efforts. The coordinated and timely release of funds will enable the City of Houston to become more resilient and recover faster. Thank you for your consideration of my requests. Sincerely, Mayor Sylvester Turner. ____ City of Stafford, Stafford, TX, September 2, 2017. Mr. Brock Long, FEMA Administrator, Department of Homeland Security, Washington, DC. Dear Administrator Long: The City of Stafford has suffered a catastrophic event, Hurricane Harvey, and the assistance of FEMA is critical to the recovery of our families and community. We are requesting your expeditious action on the following: 100% federal reimbursement for Categories A (debris removal) & B (emergency protective measures) as was approved for Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Ike. Advance funding for the Public Assistance (all categories of work) As we get more accurate damage assessment estimates, our goal is to secure total advance funding. The City of Stafford is ready to accept Disaster Recovery Centers for IA (individual assistance) and PA (public assistance) to be adequately staffed to expedite assistance. Funding of up to $20 million for a FEMA Sheltering and Temporary Essential Power (STEP) or Rapid Repair program to expedite the return of families to their homes and contribute to a whole community recovery for approximately 75 to 100 homes. We are seeking to increase the cap of this funding to up to $35,000/home. 100% advance funding and expedited processing for First Responders who lost property in the line of duty. The City of Stafford wishes to request a pilot program be granted to this region effected by Hurricane Harvey for the thousands of fire and police personnel who had significant damage to their homes and losses. Many of these First Responders are not insured and are vital to the safety and security of our cities. The City of Stafford will also be asking for HUD for immediate release of CDBG-DR funds and seeking FEMA support in this request to compliment the recovery efforts. The coordinated and timely release of funds will enable the City of Stafford to become more resilient and recover faster. Sincerely, Mayor Leonard Scarcella. ____ Missouri City, Missouri City, TX, September 2, 2017. Mr. Brock Long, FEMA Administrator, Department of Homeland Security, Washington, DC. Dear Administrator Long: The City of Missouri City has suffered the worse catastrophic event it has ever seen with Hurricane Harvey. The assistance of FEMA will be critical for our families and our community to recover. We are humbly requesting that FEMA assist us with the following need: 100% federal reimbursement for Categories A (debris removal) & B (emergency protective measures) as was approved for Hurricane Katrina, Rita, and Ike. Advance funding for the Public Assistance (all categories of work) As we get more accurate damage assessment estimates, our ultimate goal is to secure total advance funding. Our city is ready to accept Disaster Recovery Centers where we might have that ability, for Disaster Recovery Centers for IA (individual assistance) and PA (public assistance) to be adequately staffed to expedite assistance as we have in the past with other disasters. Funding of up to $20 million for FEMA Sheltering and Temporary Essential Power (STEP) or Rapid Repair Program to expedite the return of families to their homes and contribute to a whole community recovery for approximately 1,000 to 1,500 homes. We are seeking an increase of the $35,000 per home cap. 100% advance funding and expedited processing for First Responders who their property In the line of duty and including this EOC Command Center employees. The City of Missouri City wishes to request a pilot program to be granted to this region effected by Hurricane Harvey for the thousands of fire, police, and Emergency Center Employees who had significant damages to their homes and total losses while they were working 24/7 assisting others with their needs. Many were never able to return to their own home and families for a week. Many of them are not insured and were vital to the safety and Security of our cities. The City of Missouri City will also be asking for HUD for immediate release of CDBG-DR funds and seeking FEMA support in this request to compliment the recovery efforts. The coordination and timely release of funds will enable the City of Missouri City to become more resilient and recover faster. Sincerely, Mayor Allen Owen.

Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Poe).

Mr. POE of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Frelinghuysen) for yielding me time.

Mr. Speaker, my Houston area has suffered a historic hurricane, one that really changed the lives of all the people who were affected. My district was hammered by this flood.

To put it in perspective, 27 trillion gallons of rain fell over Texas and parts of Louisiana in the 6 days of the flood. That is enough water to file the Houston Astrodome 85,000 times.

At the height of the flood, 70 percent of Harris County, which is the Houston area, was flooded, 70 percent was underwater.

The devastation in Texas equalled, Mr. Speaker, the size of New Jersey. You place New Jersey in southeast Texas, that is how much of the area was affected by this flood and the rain.

People had anywhere between 36 and 52 inches of rain. The Weather Service had to create a new color, purple, on their maps to show how much rain had fallen. Nothing like this has ever happened in North America. 72,000 people were rescued by first responders and volunteers from high water. This is the largest civilian water evacuation since Dunkirk.

Thousands of civilian volunteers worked along with city and county first responders to save countless lives. The heroes came from all walks of life, from all parts of the country.

The attitude of the people of Texas was one of inspiration. Flooded victims who didn't know each other, their homes were flooded, but they were helping other flooded victims get to safety and get what property they could recover. This heroism reminded me what it means to be a Texan and an American.

Mr. Speaker, Harvey will not defeat the human spirit. There were two men in Brownwood. Now, you know where Brownwood, Texas, is. Probably nobody else ever heard of it. That is in way west Texas. They decided they wanted to help. They got in their pickup trucks. They drove to Austin, Texas, which is still 200 miles away from Houston. They went to a sports place there and bought a bass boat, a trailer, a motor, and filled it up with all kinds [[Page H6666]] of stuff, drove to Houston, Texas, and kept working for others. That is one of many stories.

So this supplemental is important to southeast Texas.

Let this vote show that we will vote not for politics, but for people.

And that is just the way it is. {time} 1100

Mrs. LOWEY. Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to yield 2 minutes to the gentlewoman from California (Ms. Roybal-Allard), a very distinguished ranking member from the Homeland Security Subcommittee on the Appropriations Committee.

Ms. ROYBAL-ALLARD. Mr. Speaker, there is no question that this supplemental funding is needed, and needed quickly. When the response to Harvey began in late August, the major disaster account of the disaster relief fund had approximately $2 billion available. The response to this catastrophe, however, is costing close to $200 million per day. This means that despite the recent $1 billion increase into this account, FEMA could run out of money at any time.

Therefore, the enactment of the additional $7.4 billion for the disaster relief fund in this supplemental is critical to help meet FEMA's immediate operational needs for Hurricane Harvey, and to allow for the resumption of recovery payments for prior disasters such as Sandy.

The supplemental would also provide a small reserve to ensure that FEMA can begin responding to Hurricane Irma, or any other new disaster that occurs between now and September 30, 2017.

It is important to note, however, that if there is significant damage from Irma, FEMA will quickly need either an additional reprogramming of money, a second supplemental appropriation, or both.

I applaud the majority for quickly bringing the supplemental package to the floor with the emergency designations.

Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Farenthold).

Mr. FARENTHOLD. Mr. Speaker, I am here today to ask my colleagues to support funding for Hurricane Harvey disaster relief. Often, the TV news goes around taking their cameras seeking the worst damage to create the most dramatic story.

In the case of Hurricane Harvey in the district I represent, you could drop a camera almost anywhere in towns like Rockport, Port Aransas, Aransas Pass, Ingleside, Refugio, Tivoli, Port Lavaca, and Victoria, and have that dramatic heart-wrenching shot of devastation.

My friends' and neighbors' homes were completely flattened by hurricane winds. Businesses were destroyed and much of towns were under water, like in Wharton, following the unprecedented flooding left behind by this storm. It is the worst we have seen in decades.

Many people, including the town mayor of Port Aransas, suffered and lost everything. He was walking around the emergency operation center when the mayor of Corpus Christi went up to him and said: I am jealous. You get to work in shorts, a Hawaiian shirt, and flip-flops.

The Port Aransas mayor looked at him and said: It is all I have left.

You know, the good news for our communities is that we came together during this disaster. Groups from around the State and around the country donated to help, and many assisted the rescue and cleanup and came down and cooked food for evacuees and survivors. People opened their homes and their hearts to strangers.

But the victims of the storms also need FEMA's help as well, with things such as emergency assistance and housing. Our cities and counties need help clearing brush and debris, and we will need to make major infrastructure repairs to areas decimated by Harvey.

With people registering for assistance at record rates using their smartphones, going to disasterassistance.gov, or using the FEMA app, FEMA will be out of money in just 2 or 3 days if we don't pass this.

I urge my colleagues to open their hearts, the way so many Americans have, and pass H. Res. 502. I want to say a special thank-you to those who donated, those who came and volunteered, and to everybody who helped out.

Mr. Speaker, we are not only Texas strong, we are America strong.

Mrs. LOWEY. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentlewoman from the Virgin Islands (Ms. Plaskett), who understands the impact of a disaster of this kind not only in her district, but in other areas where there has been so much suffering.

Ms. PLASKETT. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman for the time.

Mr. Speaker, at the end of this summer the people in the Virgin Islands, in every place of worship, say the hurricane prayer at the end of their service. And part of that prayer says at the end: But, Lord, if a hurricane should come, and You loosen the gale and the winds open on us, Your will be done.

Right now, the people of the Virgin Islands, and the people of Puerto Rico are fervently saying that prayer because God's will is being done on those islands as Hurricane Irma is impacting and crashing against the shores of St. Thomas, St. John, St. Croix, and Water Island.

This $7.8 billion in emergency supplemental funds is a crucial initial installment to address the effects of not only Hurricane Harvey, but the effect expected in my district of the Virgin Islands today as we stand in the potentially catastrophic path of Hurricane Irma, which is currently, at worst-case scenario, a Category 5 hurricane, the worst hurricane in the Atlantic's history.

This will need assistance from FEMA to perform emergency protective measures, the removal of debris, activities performed by other Federal agencies as assigned by FEMA, and to aid small businesses and homeowners in rebuilding their lives. Right now, the people of the Virgin Islands are praying for the lives of themselves, their families, and especially for the roof over their head.

This funding for initial response efforts is critical, and I thank my colleagues for the expeditious manner in which this legislation was brought to us for swift passage.

Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to approve this much-needed lifeline, and we are covetous for your prayers right now.

Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Lance), my colleague, and I thank him for his assistance many years ago addressing the needs of the residents of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut during Superstorm Sandy.

Mr. LANCE. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in strong support of this measure to allocate critical funds to urgent rescue and recovery operations currently underway in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

The destruction of Hurricane Harvey is horrific, and the loss of life is heartbreaking. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is helping to lead the disaster response. FEMA needs immediate resources from Congress.

Natural disasters can strike any part of the Nation at any time. No State is immune from the forces of nature, and States and localities should never have to question if aid is on the way.

Our excellent Federal officials have the resources and experience to mitigate harm. They need to continue putting that experience to use, helping our neighbors in need, protect critical infrastructure, contain hazardous sites, and save lives.

Mr. Speaker, I thank Chairman Frelinghuysen for his leadership in assembling this immediate assistance for those in need. I urge a “yes” vote.

Mrs. LOWEY. Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from New York (Mr. Crowley), the chairman of the Democratic Caucus.

Mr. CROWLEY. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman for yielding to me.

Mr. Speaker, I look at the pictures of Houston, Galveston, and parts of Texas, and Louisiana, and elsewhere, and I harken back to the same images I saw in New Jersey, New York, throughout New England, and other parts of the Northeast after Sandy.

I want to also note that the NYPD and the FDNY were amongst the first responders to head down to Texas to help our fellow Americans at a time of crisis and need.

I also would like to point out that I have no clue where the town is that the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Poe) mentioned, and I may never ever go there. I may never go to that town, but I will [[Page H6667]] tell you, Mr. Speaker, I don't need to go to that town to help those people. They are Americans, and I will help them at any opportunity I get when they have a storm like this that hits them. I don't ask questions. I never asked you if you knew where Edgewater in the Bronx was.

I was prepared to vote immediately to help my constituents on Sandy. I wasn't going to have to wait until next week or 30 days from now, or 60 days from now, or 90 days from now. And I think it is important we have to point out the hypocrisy.

We are not going to stop this funding from going through. We need to point out that 20 members of the Republican caucus, some from Texas, all but one, Mr. Culberson, voted against Sandy relief. It must be understood that we are all Americans, and I will stand to help every American who needs help.

Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

Mrs. LOWEY. Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from New York (Mr. Engel).

Mr. ENGEL. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman for yielding to me, and I want to pick up where Mr. Crowley left off.

I am for this aid. I am for this aid 100 percent. We should help these people. As Americans, we should help people all over our country. But it really hurts that those of us in New York and New Jersey, when Superstorm Sandy came and we were begging for help, we had to wait 2 months for help, and our friends in Texas on the Republican side of the aisle, except for one, voted against aid for New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.

And now they are asking for aid for Texas, which I support. But it just goes to show, we never know where these disasters are going to fall. It is incumbent on all of us that we support our fellow Americans no matter where they are.

So I say to the people of Texas, my heart goes out for you. My vote will be there. As much money as you need, you will have.

Mr. Speaker, but I wanted to say to my Republican friends from Texas: What you did to us during Superstorm Sandy should not stand, should not be done to any other people, anyplace in the country. We are one country. We are Americans. We need to help those that need help. I am for this 100 percent.

Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

Mrs. LOWEY. Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute to the gentlewoman from Texas (Ms. Jackson Lee), who has been right there helping, reaching out to all of those families who are in desperate need.

Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Speaker, to the distinguished gentlewoman, I come now to just stand on behalf of our delegation to be able to say, as I said earlier, I acknowledge the pain of Sandy.

But I now come to make sure that we all understand that this first crunch is only the beginning. We are going to put in legislation that asks for $180 billion, recognizing the hard work of appropriators, and letting you know that people's lives, as we walk through the debris that is in front of every house--it is painful. It is long lasting.

So I just wanted to come to give my thanks and to ask: Will you please stand with me for the long journey that is going to be needed for the infrastructure we build; new dams that are 30 years old; and housing issues that will not end today; and the massive eviction of people in apartments? Not cruelly, I hope, but they are getting eviction notices with no place to go.

Mr. Speaker, so I ask that we as Americans join for the long haul, the long destiny, with prayers for all.

I thank Mrs. Lowey for yielding to me so that we can talk about the long haul.

God bless America.

Mrs. LOWEY. Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time. {time} 1115

Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself the balance of my time.

First of all, this morning we salute the courage of all Texans and people from Louisiana. We salute their courage and their resilience.

Once again, I want to thank all of our Federal agencies and, obviously, the Governor of Texas, the Governor of Louisiana, and all those agencies that have been meeting the needs of the people; and, again, the thousands of volunteers who immediately responded and who have been working tirelessly day in and day out to help hundreds of thousands of people affected by this storm and saved, I may say, countless lives.

They have fed and housed the displaced, met critical medical needs, provided transportation, and, most importantly, gave faith to those who have lost literally everything. These are American heroes who are showing the best side of our Nation, and we are grateful for their service.

Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to support this resolution. Let's get the money out the door and help the people of Texas and Louisiana.

Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.

Mr. SIRES. Mr. Speaker, our country is reeling from a natural disaster that has left dozens dead, caused billions of dollars in damage, and forced thousands out of their homes. Hurricane Harvey has wrought a level of devastation and suffering that is nearly unparalleled in our country.

It is now our duty as America's representatives to live up to our role and help our neighbors when they are in need. This body cannot afford to delay providing disaster assistance in the wake of this storm, as Congress did when my own state was recovering from Superstorm Sandy in 2012.

Month after month, funding was withheld from our cities by political quarrels that came at New Jersey's expense. For five months, our communities were forced to wait for the federal assistance they needed to rebuild critical infrastructure.

Cleaning up the damage caused by Hurricane Harvey is a task that is beyond any single state's resources and I will not stand by quietly if Congress fails to provide swift relief for Harvey's victims.

I hope that this body has learned from its mistakes, will stand together, set aside its differences, and immediately provide the communities affected by Hurricane Harvey with the necessary assistance to recover and rebuild.

The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Poe of Texas). The question is on the motion offered by the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Frelinghuysen) that the House suspend the rules and agree to the resolution, H. Res. 502.

The question was taken.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. In the opinion of the Chair, two-thirds being in the affirmative, the ayes have it.

Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Mr. Speaker, on that I demand the yeas and nays.

The yeas and nays were ordered.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to clause 8 of rule XX, further proceedings on this motion will be postponed. ____________________



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