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Remarks and an Exchange With Reporters on Proposed Disaster Relief Legislation

September 08, 1992

The President. Let me just first express my most sincere condolences at the death of Senator Burdick of North Dakota, a great American, served his country with great distinction. And particularly to our friends from the Senate who are here today, I want to tell you how deeply Barbara and I feel about that loss. I know I speak for everybody here on both sides, the House and the Senate, both sides of the aisle, about the loss of this great Senator.

On to the business at hand. This morning I'm submitting to the Congress emergency supplemental requests to cover the cost of cleaning up the consequences of the devastating hurricane that hit both Florida and Louisiana. There's been a tremendous cooperative effort, many around this table participating to the fullest, private citizens, volunteers, government officials at all levels, to help people who have been so devastated by this storm. And I think it has been a truly bipartisan, put it this way, nonpartisan effort. It's worked very well, I think.

Today we're asking the Congress to join the effort officially on the Hill. We're asking for over $7.6 billion in budgetary resources to pay for everything from temporary shelter to guaranteed loans for new homes. It's a large financial burden, but the personal and human need is even more staggering. And our country must be able to answer the cries for help from those people who have lost so much and yet, I feel, remain so strong. So I'm asking that the Congress move promptly on this legislation with -- I'm asking that it not become entangled in other issues. So I would welcome the support of everybody here. We're with you, the Senators and House Members from the affected area. I think we can get this done. Thank you all.

Q. Mr. President, is it your impression the Congress will go along with this request?

The President. Well, one of the things we're going to talk to these leaders about is just exactly that and see what we can do. But I know the Governors of both States, Governor Chiles, Governor Edwin Edwards, are prepared to pitch in. And it is my feeling that the country is together on this one. It's hard -- --

Q. Does this break the budget?

The President. Some of it unquestionably will be over the budget, not all of it. And I'm going to ask Dick Darman to explain this to the Members here in a minute.

Q. Is this the gridlocked Congress you're asking?

The President. Not on this issue. I don't think there's any gridlock at all, Helen [Helen Thomas, United Press International]. I think the country is together. I think the Members of Congress have been superb. I have spoken out publicly in gratitude for the support of both Governor Chiles and Governor Edwards. So nice try, but not on this issue. We'll go to general quarters on other issues, not this one. We're together on this.

Q. Will anything be accomplished, Mr. President, in this election year session of Congress?

The President. This one's going to get accomplished. We've got to get this done for the people, and I'm confident that it will.

Q. Anything else?

The President. Well, I'll get a little advice on that from some around the table here.

Thank you all.

Note: The President spoke at 9:35 a.m. in the Cabinet Room at the White House prior to a meeting with congressional leaders.

George Bush, Remarks and an Exchange With Reporters on Proposed Disaster Relief Legislation Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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