2013-01-11 / Top Stories

Meeks Concerned About $51 Billion Disaster Relief Vote

Urges People To Make Voices Heard
By Miriam Rosenberg


Congressman Gregory Meeks is urging residents to contact the US House of Representative republican leadership about the Sandy disaster aid bill coming up for a vote on January 15. (Photo by Miriam Rosenberg) Congressman Gregory Meeks is urging residents to contact the US House of Representative republican leadership about the Sandy disaster aid bill coming up for a vote on January 15. (Photo by Miriam Rosenberg) On January 4th the House of Representatives passed a bill that gave the National Flood Insurance Program the authority to borrow $9.7 billion to pay claims from Superstorm Sandy. The money is just a down payment on the $60.4 billion disaster aid requested by President Obama for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. A second vote for the remaining $51 billion is set for January 15. With the first bill passing by a vote of 354 to 67 , Congressman Geogory Meeks is concerned about the vote later this month.

The concern comes from the fiscal cliff debate when Meeks said Speaker John Boehner said he had the votes for a socalled Plan B and he didn’t. Meeks is also worried that more Republicans plan to vote against the $51 billion bill.

“So the question here is does he [the Speaker] have the votes to pass the $51 billion on January 15,” said Meeks, on Monday. He added, “When you have 60 [plus] individuals, …some of them coming from states that had to have disaster relief help before …[who] voted no for $9.7 billion that was simply going for flood insurance, then I’m concerned how many or who will vote against [the $51 billion] that we’re going to vote on on the 15th. Is that number going to shrink? Is the speaker going to be able to work to make sure that he keeps his members in line to vote for it, or not? I don’t know, and so I’m concerned until it happens.

According to http://thinkprogress.org, 36 Republican congressmen who voted against the $9.7 billion Flood Insurance bill requested or advocated for disaster relief bills for their states. Another applied for a SBA disaster loan.

Included in the $51 billion is funding to start rebuilding areas affected by Sandy. It will be up to local representatives to decide how the money should be spent.

“We want to make sure that the local municipalities – the mayor, the governor – that they have the flexibility and that they have the wherewithal to distribute the money to projects that need to be done,’ said Meeks. “So it’s not the federal government, it’s not FEMA saying ‘this is what you’ve got to do here, this what you’ve got to do there’ – it’s getting the money into the hands of the individuals who know the state and allow them to do the projects that’s necessary. Because we’ve got some big projects that need to be done.”

Also included in the $51 billion are funds for the Army Corp of Engineers to begin work shoring up protection of the beaches in Rockaway.

The January 4th and January 15th votes are a result of the Speaker deciding not to bring to the floor the aid bill for Sandy on the last day of Congress in December. Area Republicans, such as Long Island Congressman Peter King and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, blasted Boehner for leaving the Capitol without bringing the disaster relief to a vote. Boehner then did an about-face and scheduled the vote in two parts for this month.

Meeks is urging people to “call the speaker’s office, call the majority leader’s office and let them know that they are dependent upon the federal government supporting them with reference to this bill that we’re going to vote on on January 15. They should urge these leaders to ask the members of their conference to vote for the $51 billion.”

Boehner’s phone number is (202) 225-0600. His fax is (202) 225-5117. The Emails can be sent to the Speaker via the http://www.speaker.gov/contact website. Written opinions can be sent to Majority Leader Eric Cantor by signing on to http://majorityleader.gov/contact/contact.html. His phone number is (202) 225- 4000. The Majority Whip is Kevin McCarty.

“Get their attention and let them know that there are people on the other end of this thing that need their government’s help, that are suffering now,” said Meeks.

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