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Congressional Inaction Is Unacceptable on Flood Relief

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Published on Jul 31, 2008

Congressional Inaction Is Unacceptable

July 31, 2008

Congress has wasted the better part of the last two months voting on over 200 non-controversial bills, including naming National Cowboy Month and passing a resolution supporting the goals and ideals of National Apple Month and the Apple Crunch.

Instead of doing the important work for Iowa and the rest of the country, the leadership in Congress has successfully achieved a vote to adjourn for five weeks without passing additional flood relief for Iowa. I voted against adjournment because it is wrong for Congress to leave without fulfilling what is a solemn promise to help Iowans and others in the Midwest waiting for flood relief.

Since the devastating floods began in Iowa last month, the Iowa congressional delegation has worked hand-in-hand—Democrats and Republicans—to make sure the federal government was delivering services to people in need.

Predictably, funding sources began to dry up long before the mud in our basements. Governors and Members of Congress from up and down the Mississippi River have been waiting, patiently and politely, for the congressional leadership to allow an emergency disaster funding bill to come before the House to provide additional emergency aid for the Midwest. However, for two weeks, the leadership in Congress has said there isn't enough time to pass a bill.

To illustrate my frustration, consider that the Speaker of the House recently cancelled work last Friday to attend a fundraiser and begin a national publicity tour for a book she recently wrote. All the while, Iowans wait for Congress to act on flood relief legislation. This is, precisely, the type of behavior that makes me, and many people, disgusted with today's political environment.

As a Member of the House Appropriations Committee, I remember three emergency aid bills that were introduced by Congress and signed into law in less than two days. Two of those bills were introduced and signed into law on the same day.

At the time, I don't remember the leadership telling members of the disaster-impacted areas that there was not enough time for the congress to meet the needs of the victims of those disasters. We all know that time is a precious commodity when one is trying to live from day-to-day in an uncertain environment.

Ironically, even though the leadership in Congress has been telling Iowa legislators there isn't enough time to pass a disaster supplemental appropriations bill, they found the time, recently, to spend four days touring the Gulf Coast, boasting about the aid that had been provided to flood victims following Hurricane Katrina. I understand people are still putting their lives back together in that region, but people in Iowa are hurting now and needed help yesterday. Not one member of Congress should boast about disaster aid until every American taxpayer in need of assistance is provided with some assurance about his or her future.

I will continue to demand that the Speaker of the House and other leaders in Congress work to bring flood relief legislation to the House Floor, and stop denying Iowans flood relief. We can pass a clean bill, without amendments, with overwhelming support from democrats and republicans. It is the right thing to do--and it is necessary. Iowa flood victims are suffering today, and relief for our state is needed now. The resources of our great state have been stretched to the limit to deal with the homes, businesses, infrastructure, and farmland that have been washed away by unprecedented flooding. There is a time for Congress to celebrate America's remarkable people, places and events. But that time is after we meet the critical needs of our citizens.

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