Statement
For Immediate Release: 
November 18, 2019
Contact Info: 
Mariel Saez 202-225-3130
WASHINGTON, DC – House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) delivered remarks in support of the Reforming Disaster Recovery Act. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery and a link to the video:
 

Click here to watch the full remarks.

“Madam Speaker, I rise in strong support of this bill, offered by my friend Rep. Al Green of Texas and cosponsored by Rep. Wagner on the Republican side. I want to thank Chairwoman Waters of the Financial Services Committee for her leadership in advancing this important bill.

“In 2017, damage from natural disasters, such as Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, cost our country and its territories $300 billion. Three hundred billion dollars in one year alone. We know that these storms are becoming more frequent and more severe, resulting from a changing climate. Sadly, our future will look more and more like 2017 as the climate crisis worsens.

“That’s why, after visiting Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Florida Keys with the Republican Leader in the fall of 2017, I helped lead a bipartisan effort to ensure that federal disaster relief funding is used to help communities rebuild to twenty-first-century standards.

“In my view, if we fail to help communities rebuild stronger, they will be just as vulnerable to future disasters as they were before. Not only is that an unwise path to follow, it is a waste of taxpayer dollars. That’s why I’m glad that this bill includes important provisions for climate resilience, hazard mitigation, and helping communities rebuild to twenty-first-century standards. I’m proud to bring it to the Floor today and hope that it will pass with broad, bipartisan support.

“This bill authorizes for the first time the Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery Program. The program has been in use through appropriations since 1993 to help communities affected by natural disasters, but it has never been formally authorized. This means that Department of Housing and Urban Development must go through extra hurdles before distributing these emergency funds, which can delay assistance getting to the communities that need it. With this legislation, that process will be streamlined, and we can do our part to make the process of rebuilding after a natural disaster faster and better.

“I want to thank the Chair and the sponsors of the bill for making commonsense changes to help align it with some of the reforms we made to the Stafford Act following the 2017 hurricanes. Importantly, the bill conditions the receipt of CDBG disaster funding on the adoption of the latest building codes and standards for those communities that want to rebuild in hazard-prone areas, such as flood zones. That will ensure that homes, schools, hospitals, and other infrastructure are rebuilt stronger and more resilient, making them safer for their occupants and – as I said – protecting taxpayer dollars that are being used to rebuild these buildings and infrastructure.

“Again, I thank Rep. Green and Chairwoman Waters for their leadership and for sponsoring this legislation, and I urge all of my colleagues to join me in supporting it today.”