Sen. Cruz: Congress Must Ensure the Promises Made to Texas Are Fulfilled and Resources Are There to Help Our State Rebuild

Urges Colleagues to Deliver Storm Funding for Victims of Hurricane Harvey

Last night, I delivered remarks on the Senate floor urging my colleagues to deliver on storm funding for victims of Hurricane Harvey.

Watch my floor speech in its entirety here. The full text of my remarks is below:

Mr. President, as jet fumes swirl around the halls of Congress and members head to the airports to head home for the holidays, I rise to remind my colleagues that there are still hundreds of thousands of people in Texas, in Florida, and in Puerto Rico who are still hurting from Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, and who will be spending Christmas not in their homes, but in a hotel, or with family and friends, or in temporary housing.

All across these regions, there are houses, businesses, schools, churches, community establishments that still need to be rebuilt, and they are waiting – counting – on our help. It is wrong, indeed it’s maddening to those in the affected regions – that the Senate is not taking up legislation today to give them what they need to continue to rebuild and recover. 

In my home state, there is no doubting that Texas’ Gulf Coast communities suffered tremendous losses in Hurricane Harvey. But the hurricane also brought out the best in Texas. We saw Texans standing together and lifting each other up. First through rescue and response, and now as we come together and rebuild our communities. The nation witnessed our iconic moments -- from the thousands of Texans who went out on boats to save their neighbors, to Houstonians lining up of all ages to volunteer at disaster recovery centers, embodying that ‘can do’ Texas spirit.

Texas has worked diligently since August on cleanup and recovery efforts from Hurricane Harvey. But I am sorry to say that the United States Senate is now leaving town without delivering on its commitment to help Texas, to help Florida, and to help Puerto Rico recover.

Congress has passed two disaster relief bills already in the wake of these hurricanes, and in addition Congress passed a bipartisan disaster relief tax bill that I was proud to author. But there is still much more that needs to be done. Our colleagues in the House just hours ago passed a bill to further provide for emergency rebuilding efforts. This bill represents progress, but much more work needs to be done to make sure that it does enough, especially for Texas, which was promised by both this Congress and by the Administration that it would be given “everything we need” to rebuild.

Early estimates from the supplemental bill that passed the House, are that Texas would be eligible for only a small percentage of the $81 billion in that legislation. That is unacceptable. And the Senate needs to fix it.

Texas experienced the worst flood event in United States history. Hurricane Harvey was unlike any other storm we have seen before in Texas. The number of people impacted, the scope - it brought 250 miles of devastation to our Texas Gulf Coast, as winds obliterated whole communities and rain flooded out parts of Texas that had never flooded before. Due to the level of damage the storm caused to homes, and businesses, and infrastructure, Hurricane Harvey was the costliest disaster this year and may well prove the costliest natural disaster in United States history. According to the Governor of Texas, the damage to our state from the hurricane is well over $120 billion and could prove to be closer to $180 billion. Any bill to provide disaster funding brought to this floor should recognize the unprecedented level of damage wreaked upon the state and should provide the support necessary for Texas to rebuild.

I spoke this afternoon with Texas Governor Greg Abbott, and he expressed serious concerns that the supplemental bill coming out of the House does not direct nearly enough resources to the state of Texas given the magnitude of the damage, the magnitude of the suffering. Disaster relief needs to focus where that suffering occurred, where the disaster occurred.

I am hopeful that when this body returns in two weeks that we will work together in a bipartisan way to ensure that the promises made to the Texas are fulfilled and that the resources are there to help our state rebuild.

The emergency response is over but recovery and rebuilding efforts go on. As we keep working to keep our promises, I remain determined to keep fighting to ensure that Texas has the federal resources to which the state is entitled under federal law.

The spirit of Texas is strong. Some weeks ago, I tweeted out a picture that I think captured some of that sprit. It was a picture of a man in his living room. The sheetrock was torn down from all the walls, nothing but studs of the walls. No carpet, the flooring was taken up, no furniture. He had a lawn chair, he had an Igloo ice chest as a coffee table, and TV screen. He was wearing a Houston Astros jersey and cheering as the Astros won the World Series. And the tweet simply said, ‘This is why it matters.’

That’s the spirit of Texas. We need to remember that spirit. And we need to make sure that disaster relief responds to the real damage and real suffering that Hurricane Harvey visited upon the state of Texas.

I look forward to working with my colleagues – hopefully from both sides of the aisle - to deliver on that commitment that Texans are owed. 

 

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