Isakson, Perdue Continue Bipartisan Push for Critical Disaster Relief
Wednesday, May 1st, 2019
U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and David Perdue, R-Ga., today continued their push for Congress to pass critical disaster relief funding for states impacted by hurricanes, wildfires, floods and other natural disasters at a press conference in Washington, D.C. It has been more than six months since Georgia was devastated by Hurricane Michael in October 2018.
Isakson called on his colleagues in Congress to act immediately to provide aid to Georgia and other states that are suffering.
“We’re talking about a disastrous failure of the government of the United States of America to respond to the needs of the people,” Isakson began.
“I don’t want to leave this Friday without us having done something. I don’t want to leave tonight without us having done something,” Isakson continued. “So I call on everybody to recognize that we have Americans hurting, Americans who deserve what they expect from their country.”
Isakson described some of the problems farmers in Georgia are facing due to Hurricane Michael. Seasonal crops like cotton and fruits and vegetables were destroyed at peak harvest by the high winds and heavy rain and flooding. Additionally, Georgia pecan farmers suffered generational losses when trees that take 12 years or more to become fruitful were destroyed.
“When you have an agricultural destruction, once that crop is gone, it is gone,” Isakson explained. “And when it takes trees out, you’re not talking about a cycle of 12 months. You’re talking about a cycle that’s 14 to 18 years in terms of maturity of those trees.”
Isakson went on to emphasize that the agriculture crisis in Georgia has been made worse because of Congress’s failure to act.
Until an aid package is passed, Isakson pledged to continue his fight. “The real disaster is Congress’s inability to pass a disaster aid bill. And until we do it, I’m going to be…fighting to see that we get it done,” he said.
“[Americans] need a country that can respond to the disasters that we’ve had,” Isakson concluded. “I want to be a part of that, I want to be a part of this team, and I want to thank every other member up here, Thom Tillis, Governor Scott, Mr. Jones, my partner in Georgia, David Perdue, and everyone else that’s here for all the work they’re doing to make this possible. Let’s make it happen, and let’s make it happen now.”
Perdue opened the conference by pointing to quick action by the federal government when a disaster occurs, versus the continued delays with disaster aid in this case.
“Over the last few years, we’ve see the United States step up and do the right thing very quickly in a number of instances,” said Perdue. “Yet, here we are still trying to work through the political realities.”
He continued by noting that farmers in Georgia are struggling to obtain another round of loans from local banks through no fault of their own, but due to the continued lack of federal aid.
“Today, many farmers in Georgia are coming into their second, and some third, round of bridge loans through local banks,” Perdue continued. “And the local banks need some kind of encouragement from the federal government to say, ‘We’re going to be there for you.’”
Perdue sounded an optimistic note that lawmakers who have been at odds on the issue are “getting very close to actually getting an agreement on this.”
“At this point of criticality nobody should leave Washington,” said Perdue. “We shouldn’t go home on the weekend unless we actually get something done on this, and I think we are close to doing that.”
Perdue, too, recommitted himself to ensuring that “we get it resolved and get disaster relief flowing to all these people across 12 states that are hurting today.”
“The president is telling us to get this done, whatever it takes,” he concluded.
Isakson and Perdue were joined by Sens. Doug Jones, D-Ala., Rick Scott, R-Fla., and Thom Tillis, R-N.C., at today’s press conference.
Each of the senators spoke about the necessity of putting aside partisan differences and coming together to end the extensive delay that continues to harm their constituents. They emphasized the urgent need to pass a relief package to help millions of Americans.
Historically, the federal government has stepped in to help victims recovering from natural disasters, and the same assistance is overdue and badly needed for these affected states. Despite months of negotiations, efforts to advance funding have stalled over partisan disagreements.
Isakson and Perdue introduced a bipartisan disaster relief package with the backing of President Donald Trump on Feb. 26, after Congress failed to address the disasters through the appropriations process. They continue to negotiate with their colleagues on a path forward to secure critical funding for Georgia and other impacted states.
Isakson and Perdue’s bipartisan funding package includes:
· Approximately $13.6 billion in overall relief efforts to all those affected.
· Critical agriculture disaster relief for farmers recovering in the wake of Hurricane Michael and other natural disasters across the country.
· Development grants for small, rural communities impacted by natural disasters in 2018.
· Assistance for veterans’ health facilities and military construction projects devastated by Hurricane Michael.
· Emergency funds for critical timber, watershed and wastewater infrastructure needs.
· Restoration of highways, aviation facilities and other transit projects damaged by natural disasters.
· Additional $600 million in nutrition assistance for Puerto Rico in response to President Trump’s disaster declaration.
· In October 2018, Isakson and Perdue personally visited parts of Georgia devastated by Hurricane Michael with Vice President Mike Pence and pushed for immediate federal funding. After funding was not obtained by the end of 2018, Isakson and Perdue twice introduced disaster relief amendments to legislative vehicles under consideration by the Senate.
· On Nov. 30, 2018, Isakson and Perdue sent two letters requesting additional funding for disaster assistance for Georgians recovering after Hurricane Michael: the first letter to Senate appropriators and the second to Senate leadership.
· On Jan. 31, Isakson and Perdue introduced a supplemental agriculture disaster relief amendment to provide critical funding for Georgia and other states recovering from recent hurricane and wildfire damage.
· On Feb. 13, Isakson and Perdue joined 11 other bipartisan senators in sending a letter to House and Senate leadership urging immediate action on a supplemental disaster relief package.
· On Feb. 26, Isakson and Perdue joined Doug Jones, D-Ala., Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Rick Scott, R-Fla., Tim Scott, R-S.C., Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, and Thom Tillis, R-N.C., to introduce a $13.6 billion disaster relief package with the backing of President Trump after prior funding attempts were removed from other supplemental spending packages.
· On April 1, the Senate took votes on two amendments that would have provided funding for Georgia and other disasters, and both pieces of legislation failed to receive the necessary 60 votes to move forward.