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United States Senate 2200 - 2300
The Senate convenes in emergency session to consider the $10 Billion Federal Emergency Managament Agency FEMA relief appropriation for victims of Hurricane Katrina. At 22:29pm, the Senate passed the FEMA Emergency Supplemental Appropriations bill, a $10.5 billion dollar measure, by unanimous consent. Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) was in the chair. 22:03:44.4 the presiding officer: pursuant 22:03:45.1 to the authority granted by section 2 of h. con. res. 225 of the 109th congress, the speaker of the house and the majority leader of the senate, acting jointly and in consultation with the minority leaders of the house and senate respectively, have determined 22:04:02.0 that the public interest warrants a convening of the senate at this time notwithstanding the order of july 29, 2005. the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. barry black, 22:04:18.4 will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. eternal lord god, creator of land, sea, and sky, we come humbly into your presence awed by nature's power 22:04:37.4 and saddened by the tragic losses caused by hurricane katrina. we enter your throne room more aware of the futility of life -- aware of the fragility of 22:04:59.0 life and the many unanswered questions that reverberate in our hearts. we need you now more than ever. lord, let your presence be felt in our land as multitudes seek to rebuild their lives, give 22:05:16.2 them wisdom and courage. 22:05:27.0 bring healing to the sick and provisions to the destitute. comfort those who mourn and 22:05:34.2 guide our leaders as they seek to grapple with the challenges of today and tomorrow. we pray in your sovereign name. amen. the presiding officer: please 22:05:48.7 join me in reciting the pledge of allegience to our flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. 22:06:06.2 the presiding officer: the clerk will read a communication to the senate. the clerk: washington, d.c, september 1, 2005. to the senate: under the provisions of rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing rules of the senate, i hereby appoint the honorable thad cochran, a senator 22:06:21.4 from the state of mississippi, to perform the duties of the chair. signed: ted stevens, president pro tempore. mr. frist: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. frist: mr. president, i would ask consent that a notification of consent be 22:06:39.2 inserted in the record at this point. the presiding officer: without objection, it is so ordered. mr. frist: mr. president, on behalf of my colleagues and fellow americans, i come to the senate floor to extend my heartfelt sympathies to the 22:06:54.6 victims of hurricane katrina. and to reassure the thousands of families suffering from this tragedy that we are committed to providing all of the relief and support necessary to get through this terrible and ongoing 22:07:11.1 crisis. it is unprecedented and it is unfolding before our eyes. thus, this is a highly unusual emergency session that we're 22:07:23.9 conducting tonight. as the president has said, our first priority is saving lives. at this very moment, relief organizations and faith-based volunteers are working valiantly to provide food and shelter and water and medical care. 22:07:45.3 fema has delivered essential sustenance and supplies, the federal emergency management agency. it has supplied and continues to supply thousands of generators and cots and blankets and 22:07:59.0 deployed over 1,800 personnel to save lives and to render medical assistance. our action coupled with the house action tomorrow will ensure that all necessary funds are immediately available to respond to this ongoing crisis. 22:08:14.5 the army, the navy, the national guard, coast guard, marine corps, and air national guard are hard at work conducting rescue operations and providing aid. 20,000 guardsmen are on the ground right now. 22:08:30.1 thousands more are on the way. volunteers from my home state of tennessee have been on the front lines all week. i think of the tennessee baptist disaster relief, a ministry of 3,000 southern baptist tennessee 22:08:45.0 churches. they're working around the clock on rescue missions at relief stations, cooking thousands of meal and providing emergency care. and they're offering something else, something desperately needed in this time of tragedy 22:09:00.8 -- the hope and the love and the compassion of a nation. of all of us pulling together as one. as norma jones, a 63-year-old volunteer from indian mound, told the newspaper, most of the 22:09:16.8 time the rescue survivors just want to be hugged. hundreds of storm victims have found refuge in nashville and middle tennessee. many are staying with relatives until it's safe to return, which, as we all know, may not be for months. 22:09:33.2 the ongoing crisis has become a crisis of refugees, a crisis of refugees the likes of which this country has never seen. in memphis, tennessee, actually a long way from -- from that gulf, there are 10,000 refugees 22:09:49.1 as we speak, and over the course of tonight they're expecting 4,000 more refugees in that town alone. on the television, we see families wading waist-high for dozens of blocks in search of food or dry land or clean water. 22:10:06.7 we see those families marooned on those rooftops as flood waters swirl past, riding, inscribing with whatever they have available, "need insulin," 22:10:20.4 "die beat i can: please help." reaching out, reach out for hope to be saved. our very own colleague and friend, senator trent lott of mississippi, lost his family home in this disaster. he returned recently, about two 22:10:35.0 days ago, to his family home and found nothing. our deepest sympathies go out to him and his family as they face this difficult time. and as so many others in this body and, indeed, around the country, all around this country face these challenges, these 22:10:50.6 personal challenges. towns and cities and communities and shorelines have been decimated and reduced to rubble, to debris. we have a public health crisis that is just beginning, an ongoing crisis but one that will 22:11:08.3 increase almost with certainty over the coming days and coming weeks. new orleans, one of cities -- one of america's most vibrant cities, will take years to recover. hundreds of helpless people remain trapped on highway 22:11:24.6 overpasses and in the city center with nowhere to go, no food, no water, sanitation, no security. it's been tough, as we've all seen, over the course of the day. most of mississippi without power, without electricity. 22:11:40.1 towns, villages totally destroyed. the darkness of night will be not just dramatic, but as we've heard just over the last several hours, haunting. underneath those bridges, in 22:11:55.8 rural areas, no lights for blocks, for miles -- just human suffering. rescue teams are working hard and we see that and we're so proud of them, and they deserve our -- our praise, our enormous praise for their courage, for 22:12:11.0 their boldness, for their dedication. the people are still stranded and they're reaching their breaking point. and they need our help now. and that is why at 10:00 tonight we are acting. 22:12:28.2 that's why we're convening tonight in this urgent session, an emergency supplemental, operating by unanimous consent. fema needs additional funds now to continue those relief efforts and to continue that recovery. over the course of the last 22:12:44.2 several days, we've had numerous calls with president bush and the democratic leader and i just several hours ago received a call from president bush requesting these funds. we applaud president bush. he moved early to get emergency supplies prepared and ready to 22:13:00.0 go. we have been in constant contact. he and his administration have been working tirelessly, tirelessly to meet this daunting challenge. we all recognize that we have much to do. there are a lot of frustrations that have bubbled up over the course of the last several days, 22:13:15.7 of -- of do more or things are not going well. and we feel those frustrations. we feel that pain. we feel that suffering. and again, that is why we are here tonight -- to support, to deliver, to answer those 22:13:30.9 challenges. i also want to thank our state and local leaders for their tremendous dedication and commitment. we, this body, our government, our federal government stands behind them 100%. helping the victims of this 22:13:47.5 hurricane disaster is our highest priority. mr. president, hurricane katrina and her aftermath is, as we all now know, one of the worst catastrophes this country has ever seen. but this is america, and in 22:14:05.4 america, we face our toughest challenges together as one. united and lifted up by our compassion and our strength. and even in our darkest hour, our humanity shines through. 22:14:21.4 millions of citizens, millions of americans committed to one another, to the care and well-being of all. mr. president, as inscribed in this very chamber just above the presiding officer, is e pluribus 22:14:41.2 unum -- out of many, one. mr. president, i yield the floor. mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the minority leader. mr. reid: mr. president, let me begin by offering my thoughts and my prayers to the victims of 22:14:55.5 hurricane katrina. they've experienced untold horrors the past few days and the road to recovery will be long and it will be hard. as we approach the start of our regular fall work period, there can be no more important 22:15:10.5 challenge facing this body in the days ahead than providing 22:15:17.0 relief to the victims of this catastrophe. it will be weeks before we know the full toll this storm has exacted. the only thing we know for sure is that we've experienced a national crisis and the people 22:15:30.7 of the gulf coast need and deserve our help. in these crucial hours, thousands of americans are engaged in search-and-rescue efforts. i hope these brave men and women performing these heroic duties know that they, too, are in our 22:15:48.8 thoughts and in our prayers. tonight in the senate, we're taking a critical first step toward bringing relief to the victims of this disaster. i support president bush for submitting this $10.5 billion 22:16:03.2 request, and i thank my colleagues for permitting us to take up and pass this important legislation tonight. our unified response sends a powerful signal to the victims of this tragedy looking for signs that their government sees 22:16:21.3 their plight and stands with them during this dark time n. these days ahead, it is important we continue to send this strong, unified message. we must work together, not together as democrats and republicans but as americans, united in helping families torn 22:16:38.1 apart by this devastating storm├▒ it is my hope that our action following the 9/11 attacks will be a model for what we do here tonight and in the future. our action after 9/11 22:16:53.6 was bipartisan. it was our top priority, and it moved significant resources to the victims of the terrorist attacks and in a timely manner. our response to the tragedy of september 2005 must be every bit 22:17:11.0 as bipartisan and direct as the tragedy of september 2001. we didn't handle 9/11 with a democratic or republican aid package, and we shouldn't handle this crisis any differently. this is not the time for partnership. the victims of this terrible tragedy must 22:17:26.8 come first. with that principle guiding us, it is important that we begin to consider our next steps, the $10.5 billion we're sending now represents a good first effort, but we all know much more needs to be done. 22:17:41.5 i'm deeply concerned about the security situation on the ground as i speak. unless we establish security in this area, we cannot mount an effective rescue operation let alone begin rebuilding. we've all seen the images of families 22:17:59.3 stranded in the superdome or sitting outside the convention center in filth and squalor. they don't have food. they don't have water. they don't have medicine. they're living in unsanitary conditions, 22:18:15.2 and because we can't keep the area safe, they've been unable to get out. they're trapped. this is not acceptable. this is america. these are americans we see suffering. we must find ways to get them the resources they 22:18:32.1 need and bring them to safety. we must restore security, accelerate our rescue operations and expedite our relief efforts as soon as possible. we must get these people the help they need and they deserve. when we reconvene on 22:18:48.5 tuesday, just a few hours from today, the security and safety of the gulf coast residents must be our first order of business. these families are counting on us. they're suffering. they have nowhere else to turn. 22:19:02.6 we owe to them to make their survival our top priority, and we should give them nothing less. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from mississippi. a senator: mr. president, let me 22:19:19.5 thank the majority leader, who is now presiding over the senate, for respond sog quickly to the request of the president for a supplemental appropriations bill, providing needed funds to the federal emergency management agency and the department of defense. mr. cochran: to carry on the 22:19:34.6 disaster relief efforts they have begun in the states that were so seriously affected by hurricane katrina. the president has submitted a letter describing the reasons for the request for this 22:19:52.5 appropriations bill, and rather than reading the entire letter, which has been made available to everyone, the letter is actually addressed to the speaker of the 22:20:06.3 house, and i may just read the first paragraph. "as i informed the nation yesterday, we're 22:20:15.4 dealing with one of the worst natural disasters in our country's history. residents of the gulf coast states affected by the hurricane have lost loved one, have lost homes and have been displaced from their communities. 22:20:29.6 my administration is committed to ensuring that they will have the full support of the federal government. due to the catastrophic nature of hurricane katrina, i am asking the congress to consider expeditiously the enclosed request 22:20:46.0 totalling $10.5 billion for an emergency fiscal year 2005 supplemental appropriation for the departments of homeland security and defense. these funds will ensure that federal response and recovery efforts 22:21:03.2 continue uninterrupted. mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the letter from the president be printed in full in the record. mr. frist: without objection. a senator: mr. president, the 22:21:17.8 letter also contains a copy of a letter to the president from the director of the office of management and budget, joshua b. bolton. mr. cochran: in this letter, he delineates specifically where the funds are needed, when they will be exhausted under current authority and why this emergency 22:21:38.3 appropriation is needed so that we can continue the aggressive disaster relief efforts in the coming weeks, and then he suggests, "i anticipate recommending to you an additional request in the coming 22:21:55.3 weeks to provide for a comprehensive response to this hurricane. once reliable estimates can be developed that recognize the extent of this disaster." this request fulfills known and urgent 22:22:09.8 requirements that cannot reasonably be met under the current fiscal year 2005 funding levels. i recommend that you designate the proposal contained in this transmittal as an emergency requirement. mr. president, i ask 22:22:24.6 unanimous consent that the complete text of the letter from the director of the office of management and budget to the president be printed in the record. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. cochran: mr. president, in response to this request, the house of representatives, i'm 22:22:40.0 advised, will be prepared to adopt a bill making emergency supplemental appropriations to meet immediate needs arising from the consequences of hurricane katrina for the fiscal year ending september 30, 2005, and the text of the bill is that 22:23:00.8 it be enacted by the senate and the house of representatives of the united states of america in congress assembled at the following sums appropriated out of my none in the treasury not otherwise appropriated for the 22:23:13.4 fiscal year ending september 30, 2005, namely the department of homeland security for an additional amount for disaster relief $10 billion to remain available until expend and then a provision providing $500 22:23:31.6 million to the department of defense for emergency hurricane expenses to support costs of evacuation, emergency repair, deployment of personnel and other costs resulting from immediate relief efforts to remain available until september 22:23:48.1 30, 2006. mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that a copy of that bill, which we are advised will be adopted by the house of representatives, be printed in the record. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. 22:24:01.9 mr. cochran: mr. president, i commend the majority leader with the concurrence and support of the minority leader for calling the senate into session tonight under these emergency conditions to approve as if passed by the house and when passed by the 22:24:18.9 house and it's received here in the senate an emergency supplemental appropriations bill to fund disaster relief efforts. these efforts are ongoing. we've all had an opportunity to see on television sets and to hear and read newspaper 22:24:34.4 accounts of the work that's been going on the last several days. i had the opportunity to travel to my state of mississippi yesterday and spent the day touring the ravaged areas along the mississippi gulf coast and then travelled to 22:24:50.0 jackson, the capital of the state, where i was able to meet with governor haley barbour and his disaster assistance team that he had assembled and was supervising in their efforts to make all of the resources of our state government 22:25:04.9 available to disaster victims and to help them in their recovery efforts from this terrible hurricane. i have never seen any 22:25:15.1 storm inflict such great damage as i saw yesterday. i was on the gulf coast immediately following hurricane camille in 1969. i was a practicing lawyer at the time. we were trying to help 22:25:27.5 one of our clients ensure that the employees of their firm, their company, standard oil company refinery, were able to present their claims to their insurance companies and otherwise be compensated 22:25:43.0 as they were entitled to under their policies from the damages sustained throughout the area where those employees were living along the gulf coast. that was the worst storm that anybody in my age group had ever heard of 22:26:01.0 before or since until hurricane katrina. and i can tell you just looking along the coastline, flying in a mississippi national guard helicopter, the 22:26:16.0 whole coastline, the whole coastal area of the state has been destroyed, virtually destroyed. there are a few buildings that are left standing -- a few. those may not be inhabitable and the 22:26:33.5 businesses that they house may not be able to continue to function until extensive repairs are made on those buildings. so it's virtually all a total loss for blocks and blocks beyond the beach area. everything was quiet. there was nobody moving 22:26:52.3 around, and the reason was it wasn't until today that many people could have access to the areas where their houses once stood. it was quiet. it was eerie. it was a horrible sight 22:27:07.4 to behold. i don't know of anything that has depressed me more than seeing what i saw yesterday in my state of mississippi. so i'm confident the senate will continue to follow the progress of 22:27:23.6 the disaster assistance effort to be sure that we make available to all federal agencies and departments the funds they need to do the job to help in the recovery efforts in mississippi and in alabama and in louisiana and the other 22:27:39.4 stays. there have been damages in florida and georgia and texas, as well. the primary use of the funds that we give to the department of homeland security as requested by the president will be used to reimburse federal 22:27:55.7 agencies for providing the relief effort that we have come to appreciate -- the coast guard, army corps of engineers, health and human service department, housing and urban development are all able to share in 22:28:11.7 these funds that will be disbursed to reimburse those departments for participating in the disaster relief effort. so it's not just to this one agency but others that will be sustained and assisted as they continue to work in this 22:28:27.8 effort. the president has appointed this taskforce, as we all know now, secretary of homeland security, michael chertoff, is chairing the taskforce on hurricane katrina. mike brown, the director of fema, has been on the ground since the very 22:28:43.2 beginning of this effort, coordinating the activities on the ground. 52 counties in mississippi have been identified as disaster -- eligible for disaster declarations. 32 parishes in 22:28:58.4 louisiana, six counties in alabama. the three governors of those states have requested that the president waive cost-share reqierments because of the expensive nature of these. and the president has 22:29:13.2 granted this waiver. i ask unanimous consent, mr. president, that a description of the challenges and accomplishments of this disaster relief effort be printed in the record. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. cochran: mr. president, at 22:29:33.9 this point i ask unanimous consent that notwithstanding the recess or adjournment of the senate, the senate may receive from the house an emergency supplemental appropriations bill for the relief of the victims of hurricane katrina, the text of which is at the desk and that 22:29:51.2 the measure be considered read three times and passed and a the motion to reconsider be laid upon the table, provided that the text of the house bill is identical to that which is at the desk. i further ask consent that the text of the 22:30:06.0 bill be printed in the record. the presiding officer: democratc 22:30:13.5 leader? mr. reid: i want the record to show that robert byrd has indicated that he fully supports the action tonight and stands arm in arm with the chairman of the committee, senator cochran, to move forward on any other requests that would come down 22:30:29.6 from the administration. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection, so ordered. mr. schumer: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from new york. mr. schumer: thank you, mr. president. first, my particular thoughts go to our 22:30:45.9 colleague from mississippi, the chairman of the appropriations committee who has experienced visiting such devastation. i have some idea of how he feels because a little less than four years ago, a little more 22:31:02.5 than four years ago i experienced the same in new york. now, mr. president, tonight our nation is experiencing one of the most tragic and heartrendering natural disasters in our history. 22:31:17.1 entire towns have been destroyed. lives have been upturned, families lost and the chaos we have all watched unfold continues even tonight. our hearts go out to the people of louisiana, mississippi, alabama and 22:31:34.4 all of the gulf states affected by hurricane katrina. and our prayers go out most of all to those still stranded and to those who have lost loved ones.├▒ the images on tv are devastating. 22:31:50.9 hungry, weeping children sitting on the street amidst garbage, family members returning to the destroyed remains of their neighborhoods discovering they have lost everything they have ever owned, from precious family keepsakes to their houses, cars, and livelihoods, and angry, frightened people with nowhere 22:32:09.0 to go and no rescue in sight. i join with all americans and people all over the world in praying for the safe rescue of all the victims of this heartbreaking tragedy. four years ago, my city of new york faced a devastating attack 22:32:27.8 and america stood with us in our time of need. new yorkers will stand with the people of the gulf region now as they stood with us then. the love and support new yorkers received from the rest of the 22:32:41.9 country after 9/11 meant so much in the wake of those attacks and the long, difficult road to recovery. i want the people of new orleans, louisiana, mississippi, and the rest of the gulf to know we will support them too no matter how long and difficult 22:32:58.7 their recovery may be. we will do whatever it takes to help now, tomorrow, and into the future. our first step comes tonight with the senate agreeing to provide $10.5 billion in desperately needed disaster 22:33:15.9 relief funds to the devastated region, and we will stand unified with president bush and ready to provide everything and anything that new orleans and the rest of the gulf region will need to rebuild and recover. just as we did after 9/11, this body and the entire nation will 22:33:33.6 work together to overcome this disaster. the american people are strong and we will persevere. like so many americans, i've been watching the terrible images on tv and i worry about the thousands of people still 22:33:49.9 stranded at the superdome and throughout the city and the region without food, water, sanitary facilities, or medical treatment. and i worry so very much about the desperately ill people -- small babies, frail seniors -- 22:34:05.5 who need medical care, and the people who may still be trapped in places rescuers have not reached. the people in attics, who retreated to the attics as the waters rose and then were stuck there. 22:34:19.4 i know firsthand how difficult it can be, mr. president, to organize a massive rescue and recovery effort, and clearly this disaster is unprecedented in its scope and difficulty. tonight a lot of people's lives still hang in the balance. 22:34:35.4 money for the long-run is necessary and that's why we're here tonight. but there is much more with he must do immediately. we must focus all our efforts on rescuing those who are ill and need medicine, who are hungry and thirsty and frightened and 22:34:52.7 despairing. we must get to these -- get these people to shelter and to medical facilities immediately. we must fly in food, water, clothing, blankets, medicine, and whatever else is needed. we must get as many ships, buses, and trucks as we can from wherever we can get them to 22:35:08.7 transport the victims and to begin clearing the wreckage. 22:35:13.3 we must provide the soldiers and law enforcement needed to restore law and order, however many it takes. this is literally a life-and-death crisis, where every moment of delay has a 22:35:27.3 human price. there is not a minute to lose no matter the cost. now, i know the phones have been ringing off the hook in my office and those of my colleagues. many have called asking where they can contribute. that act of generosity is noted. 22:35:45.5 many also have called with difficult and heartfelt questions about what went wrong in this tragedy and what else could have been done to prevent it. at the moment, we must keep our total focus on saving lives. 22:36:00.1 but i want them to know that their questions are not falling on deaf ears. in due time, after we have done everything to save those whose lives hang in the balance, we will ask those difficult questions. not to lay blame but to learn 22:36:16.8 from the mistakes that were made so that the nation will be better prepared for the next disaster we might face. but now is the time for action, for solving these problems and for saving the lives that hang in the balance. in the days and months ahead, 22:36:33.2 this nation will pull together united as we did after 9/11. we will do everything we can to help the victims and repair and rebuild the cities and towns of the gulf, especially the much-beloved city of new 22:36:48.8 orleans. just as we did in new york, we will face difficulties and great sorrow, but i know i join all my colleagues here in the senate in pledging assistance, financial and beyond, that the gulf region needs and anything else in our 22:37:05.3 power to help our fellow citizens. tonight our prayers, our fervent prayers, are with them. mr. cochran: mr. president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk 22:37:20.1 will call the roll. quorum call: mr. frist: mr. president? 22:37:55.1 the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. frist: i ask the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection, it's so ordered. mr. frist: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to s. con. res. 51, which is the adjournment resolution. the presiding officer: the clerk will -- mr. frist: i further ask consent the motion be agreed to and the 22:38:11.5 motion to reconsider be laid upon the table. the presiding officer: without objection, it's so ordered. mr. frist: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the majority leader, the senior senator from mississippi, and the senior senator from new mexico be authorized to sign duly enrolled bills or joint resolutions during this adjournment of the senate. 22:38:27.3 the presiding officer: without objection, it's so ordered. mr. frist: i ask unanimous consent that when the senate completes its business today, the senate stand adjournment under the provisions of s. con. res. 51 until 12:00 noon on tuesday, september 6, unless the house has not adopted s. con. 22:38:43.6 res. 51, in which case the senate shall stand adjourned until 4:00 p.m. on friday, september the 2nd. the presiding officer: without objection, it's so ordered. mr. frist: mr. president, i do want to take this final opportunity to thank our colleagues for their assistance 22:38:59.7 in getting this emergency funding considered so quickly. we will be returning to business on tuesday and we will be monitoring the situation in all of the effects states which are the states we mentioned tonight 22:39:16.3 plus really a much larger region, in fact the whole country, over the next several days. our hearts and, as has been spelled out and articulated so well by my colleagues tonight, especially our prayers do go out 22:39:33.0 to the people of those states as we pull together and capture the best of what america represents and that is supporting in times of crisis each other as a nation in order to get through these 22:39:48.7 really unanticipated, unprecedented challenges before us. mr. president, if there's no further business to come before the senate, i ask that the senate stand in adjournment under the previous order under the provisions of s. con. res. 22:40:03.1 51. the presiding officer: without objection, the senate stands adjourned until 12:00 noon on tuesday, september 6, 2005, 22:40:11.3 contingent upon the adoption by the house of s. con. res. 51, or until 4:00 p.m. friday, september 2, 2005. 22:40:27.1 adjourn: