|1:19 PM EDT||
Tom Latham, R-IA 4th
Mr. LATHAM. I thank Mr. Frelinghuysen for the time.
Mr. Chairman, I rise in support of this bill and simply to make a point about the emergency funds and the offset that's provided to the Army Corps of Engineers.
I think everyone is aware, but I want to emphasize the dire situation we have today on the Mississippi River and, certainly, the very dire situation we have on the Missouri River that is costing lives, costing livelihoods, businesses, and the futures for so many families.
We also, Mr. Chairman, have a dire situation with our deficit today, and we've got to address that. In order to fund the immediate repairs for the lifesaving levees, the committee proposed an offset from the high-speed rail. And that's really a program that they're talking about that in 10 years still won't be beyond the planning phases.
As the chairman of the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Subcommittee on Appropriations, I understand that a portion of this money would have gone to very important projects in the Northeast corridor. Some of these projects have great merit, and Chairman Frelinghuysen has been the strongest advocate for funding for these programs that do have merit. He understands it; I understand it. We will do everything that we can to fund those projects because they are needed up there.
But I will also say that today we have an emergency beyond anything that I have ever seen before in my years. It would be a week ago Wednesday that I was standing on a levee by the Missouri River by the town of Percival, Iowa. Farmers were there on the other side of the levee trying to fix boils that were coming through underneath the levee, trying to save their farms, their communities. Some of those farmers, they were fifth- and sixth-generation farms, and they were fighting desperately to
save their livelihood and their family's heritage. That was 3 in the afternoon on Wednesday. At 4 the next morning, Thursday morning, that levee blew out. And those livelihoods, those thousands of acres of farmland, the town of Percival itself is now underwater.
That is why these funds are desperately needed today, as soon as possible, to make sure that we can fund the type of emergency that we have going on today.
The Army Corps of Engineers needs that money today so they can repair those levees so we can save lives and livelihoods and the heritage for generations to come.
Mr. Chairman, today is not a question of what we want. We all want to see improvements in the Northeast corridor, and we are going to do everything we can to make that happen. But it is about what is needed today, what is an emergency today, what funds have to go to dire problems that we face and the dire consequences we will face if, in fact, we do not do the work that we need to do today.
I commend the chairman for his great work.