Press Release

U.S. Rep. Castor: House Votes to Provide Needed Disaster Aid to Communities Struggling to Recover, End the Trump Shutdown

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Washington, January 17, 2019 | comments
U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor (FL14) and a majority of members in the U.S. House of Representatives passed several bipartisan bills today and yesterday to reopen the government, end the Trump shutdown and provide needed disaster aid to communities struggling to recover from recent natural disasters.
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U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor (FL14) and a majority of members in the U.S. House of Representatives passed several  bipartisan bills today and yesterday to reopen the government, end the Trump Shutdown and provide needed disaster aid to communities struggling to recover from recent natural disasters.

“It is vital that we provide the necessary resources for our communities to rebuild after hurricanes and wildfires.  The comprehensive emergency disaster supplemental bill will provide emergency help for communities across our country who urgently need to recover,” said U.S. Rep. Castor.  “Resources to strengthen resiliency to future disasters – especially those made more frequent by climate change – were included in the disaster supplemental bill, along with vital resources for the health services and nutritional assistance in Puerto Rico.

“I am appalled that the President threatened to veto this disaster bill, cynically citing concerns over funding for critical assistance for Puerto Rico’s Nutrition Assistance Program (NAP),” U.S. Rep. Castor continued.  “Health care is key for many families on the island and I will continue to fight for vital resources that are central to recovery.”

This bill will provide $12 billion in relief and recovery assistance for Americans in the wake of recent natural disasters, including $2.54 billion in funds dedicated to mitigating damage from future disasters that are accelerating in number due to climate change.  It also appropriates $662 million in funds for nutrition and Medicaid assistance to ensure that an estimated 1.3 million residents receiving nutrition assistance do not lose this vital lifeline in the coming months.  An amendment by U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez (NY7) also passed, providing $25 million for Caño Martín Peña channel ecosystem restoration.

It has been reported that the President could be eyeing $13.9 billion given to the Army Corps of Engineers by Congress for disaster relief projects to fund his wall.  That amount includes $802 million in recovery funds for Florida and $2.5 billion in recovery funds for Puerto Rico.  Diverting these funds away from necessary and critical initiatives to help Americans recover and better prepare against the damage caused by natural disasters is shortsighted and potentially dangerous.

“It is appalling that the President considered diverting emergency funds from places like Florida, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands that have suffered catastrophic natural disasters,” said U.S. Rep. Castor.  “After Hurricanes Florence and Michael and the wildfires that swept through California, it is vital that we provide the necessary resources for communities to rebuild, especially with resiliency, and this bill does just that.”

U.S. Rep. Castor and her colleagues this week also voted to reopen the government, protect our borders, end the Trump Shutdown, provide backpay to furloughed federal workers and get people back to work.

“I have heard from many Tampa area government public servants, contractors and their family members affected by the Trump Shutdown,” said U.S. Rep. Castor.  “The House voted on several bills this week to reopen America’s government and protect our borders.  I am calling on the White House and GOP Senators to stop cynically obstructing efforts to end the shutdown and instead work with the House to get people back to work.  It is wrong to hold our Coast Guard, our Customs and Border, TSA officers, air traffic controllers and others hostage without pay.”

Democrats have worked with Republicans to develop a detailed, smart and effective Border Security plan that includes:

  • New drug, weapons and contraband scanning technology at official ports of entry: installing new technology to eventually scan all commercial and passenger vehicles for illegal drugs and other contraband at our ports of entry.  According to both U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), 90% of heroin, 88% of cocaine, 87% of methamphetamine and 80% of fentanyl being smuggled into the U.S. are seized at official ports of entry, not areas between the ports of entry where President Trump wants to build his wasteful border wall. 
  • Advanced technology to detect unauthorized crossings: cameras, sensors and radar to spot moving people and objects, in any weather or time of day, that are mounted on towers and Border Patrol vehicles and on drones to surveil tough terrain.
  • More customs personnel: filling the more than 3,000 vacancies for customs officers who facilitate trade and travel at our land, air and sea ports of entry, inspect commercial and passenger vehicles for illegal drugs and other contraband, and ensure that travelers are vetted and screened before entering the United States.
  • Expanded port of entry infrastructure: building up our port of entry infrastructure to improve security and better facilitate trade and travel, ending the long delays for visitors and commercial shipments that cost our country billions in economic activity and thousands of jobs.

But Democrats will not waste billions of taxpayer dollars on an ineffective, expensive wall that can be tunneled under, climbed over or cut through – a wall that Mexico was supposed to pay for.

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