Washington, D.C. – House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (CA-23) spoke on the House floor today in support of legislation to provide disaster relief funding for California, Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.
Full speech below, or watch online here.
“Mr. Speaker, it’s only four days to Christmas. I look forward to going home and being with my family, and I know every single member in this body looks forward to that too. I count my blessings that my family is safe and that I have a community and a home to head back to, because there are people in our country who don’t have that. Their homes were destroyed by wind, floods, and fires. Their communities were torn apart by hurricanes and flames.
“Now, I had the somber privilege of travelling to these places. I went to Texas and spent time with members on both sides of the aisle, seeing the flooded homes and streets filled with water. We visited NRG Stadium to meet the people forced to evacuate from their homes. And I stood with Representatives like Sheila Jackson Lee, Al Green, Randy Weber, and Brian Babin. These folks who don’t often agree on much in politics, but you know what we did that day? We all promised to help the people of Texas.
“I flew to the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico with Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, and I would like to thank delegate Stacey Plaskett and Resident Congresswoman Jennifer Gonzalez for welcoming us and opening the eyes of the nation to what was happening.
“In the Virgin Islands, we visited a hospital. The storm left half of it unusable. No dialysis machines. They had to come to the mainland. Nurses and doctors were working, doing the best they could to help people in the most difficult of circumstances.
“In Puerto Rico, we were the first Congressional delegation to visit the interior after the storm. We were with members like Jeff Denham, Anthony Brown, and Norma Torres. We met people without power for weeks, low on food, low on medicine. We saw schools and homes destroyed and completely washed away.
“We then went to Florida to see the other towns hit by Hurricane Irma, places that face storms year after year.
“And I returned to my home state of California with Congressmen Mike Thompson and Jared Huffman during the worst wildfire season our state has ever seen. We saw the fires rage up north where it destroyed entire communities. Forty-six people have lost their lives in the fires in California this year. And you can see the devastation: block after block ash-heaps of homes and trees standing like barren pillars.
“I met the firefighters down south still battling what may become the largest wildfire in California’s history. And as it looks, they will still be standing on the front lines of those fires come Christmas day.
“Every single place I went, Democrats and Republicans stood together. We saw the devastation together. We spoke to the suffering people together. And together we made a promise that we would return to Washington and work hand-in-hand to help them as soon as possible.
“That’s why you heard Minority Whip Hoyer on September 26th say that he would, quote, ‘work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to ensure Congress provides all funding necessary to ensure that all Americans affected by these storms can recover and rebuild.’
“That’s why he said on November 2nd that he believes, quote, ‘We can work together in a bipartisan way to ensure that the affected areas receive the resources they need from Congress.’
“That’s why I appreciated joining him in an op-ed in the Washington Post on November 8th where we wrote, and I quote, ‘We are determined to ensure there is strong bipartisan support for the next supplemental emergency funding package so that affected areas such as those we visited have the resources they need.’
“Now, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi spoke similarly. She signed a letter with members across California saying to President Trump that ‘we look forward to working with you to ensure that all Americans who have been severely impacted by recent natural disasters across the United States receive the federal support they need and deserve.”’
“She told the appropriations committee that, quote, ‘Congress has an urgent responsibility to the California families whose lives have been upended by the disastrous wildfires.’
“I couldn’t agree more with these statements. And in the past few weeks and months, we did. We worked together. We analyzed the damage. We studied requests with governors and legislators. We even made significant reforms to respond to disaster in the most effective and responsible way possible.
“The legislation today is the result. It provides funding for every single state and territory affected by natural disasters. I would remind all of my friends from California that this legislation accommodates exactly what our entire delegation requested.
“And in all this work, we did it together, in a bipartisan way. The way the American people expect this body to work.
“Now, I know that it’s the habit of this town to play politics. So, Mr. Speaker, I do want to tell my friends on the other side: if you feel like you have to, play politics on tax cuts. Call it whatever you want to call it. Play politics on the other legislation that comes to this floor.
“But if I can request one thing—please don’t do it here. Don’t play politics on a vote to give aid to the people of Texas, to the people of Puerto Rico and to the Virgin Islands, to the people of Florida, and to the people of California that are still fighting the fires. Don’t play politics on a bill where you hope to maybe stop another. That would be the worst of any politics I’ve seen played here.
“So, Mr. Speaker, I beg my friends on the other side, please don’t do what you did two weeks ago when you whipped against a funding bill to shut the government down.
“You don’t like tax cuts? I understand. Vote against it. You don’t want to vote for the funding of government and you want to shut it down? Fine. Take that vote. But here and now, right before Christmas, don’t vote against aid for Americans who just lost everything. They don’t understand the politics of it. Don’t vote against aid you promised to deliver. Don’t vote against aid we worked so hard on together to put onto this floor.
“Washington, D.C. could be far from our homes. We may all be dreaming of being home with our kids, eating Christmas dinner, opening presents, and enjoying time with our family and friends. But what we do here and now, it has consequences. What we do here and now will either give tens of thousands of people something to hope for this Christmas, or take that hope away.
“We can deliver that hope if those who stood with me on the flood plains of Texas and on the burnt hills of California keep the promise they made. We can deliver that hope if those who worked with us for so long continue to work with us today. People need our help. So vote to give them the help they need—the help we all promised.”