Leahy Statement on Final Passage of the Continuing Resolution

Before I begin, I want to acknowledge that this morning, countless Floridians woke up to a world turned upside down in the wake of Hurricane Ian.  And hundreds of thousands in Puerto Rico remain without power more than 10 days after the storm that ravaged the island.  Vermonters will stand by your side as you rebuild your communities and your lives, and so will this chamber. 

The continuing resolution we are about to consider contains $18.8 billion for the FEMA Disaster Relief Fund, which would bring available resources in the fund to approximately $35 billion to respond to these and other disasters.  We likely will not know the extent of the damage for several days, but we are the United States of America, and I am ready to work with my colleagues to respond with what is needed. 

That said, I am glad that we have reached agreement to fund the federal government through December 16, and I want to thank my friend Vice Chairman Shelby and Leaders Schumer and McConnell for their work and cooperation in reaching this point. 

I am glad that we were able to secure $1 billion to bolster LIHEAP ahead of the winter heating season.  In my home state of Vermont, which will receive an infusion of $5.7 million from this funding, this program goes a long way in helping families pay their bills when faced with rising fuel costs and plummeting temperatures. 

The bill also includes $12.35 billion dollars in emergency assistance for Ukraine; $2.5 billion to support recovery efforts following the Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fire in New Mexico; and $2 billion in Community Development Block Grants to help communities recovering from major disasters in 2021 and 2022.  I am disappointed that due to Republican opposition, there is no additional funding to combat COVID-19 or Monkeypox, but I will keep fighting for these important resources. 

Finally, I want to be clear.  This is only a temporary measure.  As the Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, I am committed to completing the work of the Committee before the end of this Congress.  Running on autopilot after December with rising inflation would be irresponsible.  It would leave priorities – of both Republicans and Democrats – underfunded and under resourced.  The federal government funds programs that the American people rely on, and we should do the job they sent us here to do. 

I want to thank Vice Chairman Shelby’s staff.  I also want to thank my staff for their hard work and countless hours.  Charles Kieffer, Chanda Betourney, there are too many to name now, so I ask unanimous consent that their names be entered into the Record. 

This continuing resolution is a strong bill.  It is a bipartisan bill, and I urge my colleagues to support it.  

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