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Hinchey Votes Against Insufficient Disaster Funding Bill, Congressman Renews Call for Immediate Up or Down Vote on Bipartisan Senate Bill

September 23, 2011

Washington, DC -- Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) today voted to defeat legislation that failed to provide adequate funding for ongoing emergency disaster relief related to Hurricane Irene, Tropical Strom Lee and other natural disasters across the country. President Obama has requested $6.9 billion in funding for FEMA to continue relief in response to natural disasters throughout the country.

The bill, supported by House Republican leadership, would have only provided $3.65 billion for FEMA and other relief efforts, while doing nothing for farmers. Hinchey is continuing to fight for an up or down vote in the House on the comprehensive, bipartisan Senate package, which meets the president's request while also providing badly needed support for Department of Agriculture programs that provide emergency relief to farmers.

"This legislation failed to meet the needs of New Yorkers and others across this country who have been devastated by natural disasters," said Hinchey. "It was a half measure that would have caused FEMA and other agencies to run out of funding, delaying aid to families, small businesses and farmers that have been affected by Irene and Lee. It provided no relief to farmers, and it shortchanged other agencies that are helping us rebuild after these devastating storms. I'm pleased that it was defeated so that we can quickly bring a better bill to the floor."

Yesterday, Hinchey led a group of 77 House members in calling on Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader Cantor to schedule an up or down vote on comprehensive, bipartisan legislation that meets FEMA's funding needs, supports farmers and has already passed the U.S. Senate. Unlike the House bill, which attached disaster relief funding to a broader bill to fund the federal government, the Senate bill is a simple, standalone measure that ensures emergency funding does not get delayed by the complicated political, poisonous budget debate.

"We can't afford gridlock and inaction, but that's exactly what we're getting as a result of the decision to entangle disaster relief with the debate over the budget and offsets," said Hinchey. "Eight times under the Bush administration, the House passed legislation with broad Republican support to fund emergency relief in the aftermath of disasters. This time should be no different. Instead, it's looking more and more likely that New Yorkers will not get the immediate assistance they need because Washington is mucking things up with this debate over the deficit. We need a simple, clean vote on emergency disaster relief. Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader Cantor need to bring this issue to the floor for a vote."