Mr. NADLER. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of the Hurricane Sandy supplemental appropriations bill, and the Frelinghuysen amendment to provide the funds necessary to start rebuilding and recovering from the storm.
Hurricane Sandy hit the east coast almost 3 months ago. Never before has the House of Representatives taken so long to meet its obligations following a major disaster. I'm relieved that we're finally considering this bill today; but I'm disappointed, once again, that some are still playing politics by trying to add poison pills and offsets that jeopardize this aid package.
As the current debate over the pending sequestration shows, finding offsets is no easy task, and it makes no sense to put that on the back of emergency aid. It defies the very nature of emergency aid, and it impedes the Federal Government from doing its most important job, protecting its citizens when calamity strikes.
On the surface, Mr. Speaker, New York City appears to be back up and running; but many people are still homeless, and the lack of long-term housing is a problem for which we do not have an adequate answer. The restoration of heat and power remains a challenge.
There are increasing reports of people, including small children, getting sick from exposure to toxic mold, sewage, or other hazardous substances. Entire neighborhoods are still dark and largely abandoned.
Many small businesses in Lower Manhattan are still paying off disaster assistance loans secured after the attack on the World Trade Center 10 years ago. Many of these businesses were already operating on thin profit margins. Now they've been hit again; and without additional resources and a faster rebuilding process, many of these small businesses may close for good.
The needs are great, and yet the House has still failed to act. Back in December, the Senate passed a $60.4 billion disaster aid package that tracked very closely to the administration's request, which was based on conservative assessments of the needs across the region.
The House should have passed the Senate bill back then. There is simply no justifiable reason for the delay, unless you believe that when disaster strikes we are all on our own. Let us, once and for all, reject that notion and meet our obligations to get emergency aid in the hands of those who need it urgently.
I urge my colleagues to end this madness and vote for the underlying bill, for the Frelinghuysen amendment, and against all restrictive amendments.