Friday, November 02, 2012

Rep. Fattah Introduces Bill For $12 Billion In Sandy Assistance

Nov 2: Representative Chaka Fattah (D-PA) introduced legislation for $12 billion in emergency disaster relief funds -- with no budget offsets -- to provide the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and other agencies with resources related to national recovery from Hurricane Sandy. "The Hurricane Sandy Recovery and Rebuilding Supplemental Appropriations Act" directs $6.7 billion for FEMA's Disaster Relief Fund and sets aside $5 billion for FEMA to provide direct loans to state and local governments in a Disaster Assistance Direct Loan Program Account. These funds would help to compensate for tax revenue lost due to the storm and its aftermath. The latest estimates of total damage from Sandy are $60 billion.

    In addition, the bill directs $45 million to the Army Corps of Engineers Flood Control and Coastal Emergencies Account and $255 million for the Small Business Administration's disaster loans program. Rep. Fattah said, "Leaders at all levels -- from President Obama to governors, mayors and first responders -- demonstrated the value of being prepared before this cataclysmic storm. We in Congress must take the same pro-active approach to providing resources for recovery. FEMA may have enough on reserve to start the process of recovery. But it's evident from scale of destruction that this will be a costly, perhaps unprecedented recovery across as many as two dozen states. New York State alone is requesting $6 billion in federal aid. It is critical that cash-strapped state and local governments everywhere know that their needs will be met."

    Fattah is a senior Appropriator who serves as Ranking Member on the House Appropriations Committee's Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and related agencies. His Philadelphia based district was one of many in the East and Midwest that have experienced major impacts from Sandy's devastation. He said, "The American people impacted by Sandy have a right to a full, smart, bipartisan recovery support effort from Washington. We cannot accomplish this on the cheap. The President has pledged to state and local officials and to individuals in Sandy's path that we will provide every resource for recovery. It's time for Congress to step up."

    Rep. Fattah introduced the emergency funding bill during the brief, pro-forma session of the House on Friday. He called for full debate and quick enactment when Congress returns in regular session on November 13. In a release he noted that while routine appropriations require offsetting budget cuts under Congressional pay-go rules, he indicated there is ample precedent for emergency spending without offsets. He said, "We have always provided funding for emergencies without cutting the budget elsewhere, and the pay-go rules of the House provide for these exceptions. Clearly, with major population and commercial centers hobbled, Sandy meets the emergency test. We have a responsibility to ensure that FEMA doesn't run out of money part way through the job."

    This week's BloombergBusinessweek cover story is entitled, "It's Global Warming, Stupid." In opening remarks, the article states: "In an Oct. 30 blog post, Mark Fischetti of Scientific American took a spin through Ph.D.-land and found more and more credentialed experts willing to shrug off the climate caveats. The broadening consensus: 'Climate change amps up other basic factors that contribute to big storms. For example, the oceans have warmed, providing more energy for storms. And the Earth's atmosphere has warmed, so it retains more moisture, which is drawn into storms and is then dumped on us.' Even those of us who are science-phobic can get the gist of that. . ."

    Access a release from Rep. Fattah (click here). Access the Businessweek issue with many links and further details (click here). [#Climate]

32 Years of Environmental Reporting for serious Environmental Professionals