Press Release
For Immediate Release: 
July 28, 2022
Contact Info: 
Raymond Rodriguez 202-225-3130
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD-05) joined Rep. Joe Neguse (CO-02), Rep. Zoe Lofgren (CA-19), Rep. Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01), Rep. Jimmy Panetta (CA-20), Rep. Kim Schrier (WA-08), Rep. Greg Stanton (AZ-09), Rep. Teresa Leger Fernández (NM-02), and Rep. Melanie Stansbury (NM-01) for a press conference in support of H.R. 5118, the Wildfire Response and Drought Resiliency Act, which will help communities affected by recent climate-induced disasters recover and rebuild, as well as invest in suppression, resiliency, and mitigation efforts. Below is a transcript of his remarks:
 
Click here for a link to the video.
 
“Thank you very much, [Rep.] Joe Neguse. I’m going to go home and tell my constituents ‘well, they like me in the West,’ for those of us from the East. I am so pleased to be here with all of these extraordinary Members. Many are new Members, but they hit the ground running and they hit the ground focusing on the needs of their people. Although I live in the East, I, like all of us in the East, wake up and see these terrible images on the television of not only extraordinary 2000-year old trees being threatened, homes being threatened, businesses being threatened, people being threatened, but we also see the extraordinary reduction in the levels of reservoirs, Lake Mead, and others, where the [water] levels are extraordinarily low.
 
“I want to take Rep. Neguse and Rep. Huffman and Rep. Teresa Leger Fernández, Rep. Tom O’Halleran, Chair Zoe Lofgren, I don’t know if she’s here but I know she’s very involved in this effort, Rep. Harder, my dear friend [Rep.] Kim Schrier, Dr. Schrier, Rep. Jimmy Panetta – Jimmy, I got that right? I call him Leon too often. Rep. Greg Stanton, the former mayor – and if anyone knows about water supply and the critical nature of that, it is a mayor, and then Rep. Melanie Stansbury, who’s not here. I’m pleased to be here to join all of them. As Co-Chair of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus, I’m glad to have the opportunity to stand with my colleagues to talk about the legislation we are passing today to address the wildfires and drought throughout the American West. We are one nation indivisible, and if one part of us is burning, we are all burning, figuratively if not literally. As a result of record heat from the climate crisis, the West is experiencing its most severe drought in more than 1,200 years. I pause for emphasis to think of twelve centuries without a situation that not exists that threatens people, property, historic assets, and the very ability to live in places.
 
“These conditions have made wildfires increasingly fierce and frequent. These infernos tear through communities and forests, leaving destruction and sorrow in their wake, and costing our nation billions of dollars each year. Again, because we are one nation indivisible, we are all properly contributing towards trying to resolve and to respond to these disasters. So, tt behooves all of us in the United States of America to make sure that we deal with the fires and the droughts that are occurring.

“At the same time, many communities are struggling with drought as the water levels in lakes and reservoirs drop by dozens of feet each year -- hundreds of feet. For example, for example, the reservoirs along the Colorado river, upon which 40 million people rely for water and energy, are shrinking so quickly that some hydro-electric dams soon will be unable to produce power for millions of customers. That is the proximity of the emergency. This rapidly growing problem demands swift action. This bill, the Wildfire Response and Drought Resiliency Act, is a key part of our response. That’s why I am bringing it to the House Floor for a vote this week.
 
“From supporting our fire fighters to funding projects that will keep clean drinking water flowing, this legislation will help safeguard communities from wildfires and drought. There is not a minute to waste in responding to this crisis. These colleagues from Western states, who are standing alongside me today, understand the pressing nature of this issue all too well. They have seen firsthand the severe toll that wildfires and drought take on their constituents. These Members are leading Congress’s response to this challenge by addressing both the immediate effects and underlying causes of these disasters. Climate [change] challenge is a crisis, and unfortunately there are too many in the United States, on the other side of the aisle, who dismiss it as the critical problem that it is.

“I look forward to working alongside my colleagues here behind me, and this determined group that represents a much, much larger group of House Democrats, to keep working to protect our nation’s communities and forest lands. This is about an America that is healthy, this is about an America that is safe, an America that is robust and growing. This legislation is critically important, and I congratulate each one of you for the role that you have played in getting this to the Floor and getting the substance included in the bill. America will be better for the passage of this bill.”