U.S. Rep. Tom Marino, PA-10, expressed his deep disappointment Wednesday after the House voted down a measure that would have provided immediate assistance to flood victims. By a 230-195 vote, the House rejected HR 2608, which funded the federal government through November.
“I am embarrassed that the House chose form over substance and let politics get in the way of helping the victims of these terrible disasters,” Marino said. “Passage of this measure would have meant immediate relief for flood victims. That help would have come as early as the end of next week.”
Marino vowed to bolster his efforts to ensure the individuals, businesses, farmers, and local governments affected by the recent hurricane and flood could take the first step on the road to recovery.
“I will continue this battle with more vigor,” he said. “I will double my efforts to get the rebuilding process started. I will not rest until every family that was impacted has safe, clean living arrangements.”
HR2608 allocated $1 billion in disaster assistance for the fiscal year 2011 – which ends Sept. 30.
Marino said the funding represents a substantial start and noted that most victims have not yet completed a thorough assessment of their losses.
“We do not even have an estimate as to how much damage has been incurred,” Marino said. “Even the governor does not have a figure. It is not fair to these people to make them wait until all of the damage has been assessed.”
Marino said the one and only reason he voted for the continuing resolution was the promise of immediate flood relief.
“I wanted to see us pass a spending bill for the entire fiscal year, however, my top priority is to get help for the flood victims in my district,” Marino said. “This measure would have provided timely help and that is what is important to me, getting resources to affected families, businesses, and local governments immediately. This was a good start.”
The congressman spent the last three weeks touring his flood-ravaged district and is motivated by the images of the people and their property.
“I saw grown men cry and say to me `Where am I going to put my family?’ That is the job of the federal government, to help people during the time of a disaster,” Marino said.
The congressman co-chairs the bipartisan congressional coalition that is working to ensure disaster assistance finds its way to victims of Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. Marino has been a strong advocate for prompt action, urging Speaker John Boehner to bring emergency funding legislation to the House floor immediately.
He noted letters of support have been circulating throughout Capitol Hill advocating the passage of various disaster assistance bills.
Marino said it is time to stop sending letters and start sending relief to the flood victims.
“It is time we rise above the partisan bickering and pass a measure that gets this help out to the flood victims immediately,” Marino said. “I have looked into the eyes of people in my district who have watched helplessly as their life’s work was swept away. I have traveled from county to county and that scene has been played out over and over again. It is heartbreaking.”