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Statement of Administration Policy: H.R. 3759 - Making Emergency Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Assistance Because of the Los Angeles Earthquake and for Other Purposes, FY 1994

February 03, 1994


(Sponsor: Natcher (D), Kentucky)

The Administration commends the House Appropriations Committee for its expeditious handling of the bill to provide emergency appropriations for relief efforts to those affected by the southern California earthquake. Its efforts will ensure that there is no interruption in providing immediate housing, food, and medical assistance to hundreds of thousands of victims of this natural disaster. These funds will also be used to restore essential traffic systems to millions of citizens in the Los Angeles area.

The Administration supports House passage of H.R. 3759, as reported by the Committee.

It is the Administration's strong view that the Federal Government should treat the victims of the Los Angeles earthquake in the same compassionate and expeditious manner as victims of other recent disasters. Therefore, the Administration would oppose any controversial amendment whose passage could result in delaying enactment of this legislation.

In particular, the Administration strongly opposes both the Nussle/Kasich/Penny/Condit and the Myers amendments. Under the bipartisan budget agreement of 1990, Congress and the President agreed that emergency supplemental appropriations did not require offsets. The victims of this disaster should not be treated differently from other disasters, nor should they be held hostage to the inevitable delay that will result from the passage of these amendments.

The Administration has no objection to including the Fazio amendment on this bill. Many of the rescissions contained in the amendment were based on Administration rescission proposals. These rescissions have already passed the House and thus will not delay enactment of the bill.

The Administration strongly opposes the Frank amendment which would strike funding that is essential to support the ongoing humanitarian, peacekeeping and peace enforcing operations for Somalia, Bosnia, Southwest Asia and Haiti. Ongoing military contingency operations are not budgeted in advance. Consequently, the Department of Defense has been borrowing from core maintenance and support resources to fund these operations. Restoring these funds is essential to maintaining the readiness of our forces.

The southern California earthquake is the largest disaster ever handled by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). As a result of the earthquake, 57 people died, 6,500 were injured, about 16,000 homes and apartments were rendered uninhabitable, and over 45,000 residential structures were damaged. As physical inspections of these damaged housing are completed, increased numbers are being declared uninhabitable.

FEMA has already accepted over 250,000 applications for disaster assistance. Agency staff are working 24 hours a day to process these applications. In only two weeks, FEMA has accepted more applications in southern California than the total applications accepted for either the Midwest floods or Hurricane Andrew.

Approximately 100 public schools were severely damaged. While many reopened with emergency facilities and repairs provided with FEMA assistance, as of Monday, eight schools remain closed. Damage to public buildings was severe. Inspections completed this past weekend of the University of Southern California hospital identified over $400 million in damage. Eleven buildings were destroyed and another 10 damaged.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development has already distributed over 10,000 Section 8 emergency housing certificates, the total available through the Secretary's existing emergency funds. This compares with 7,000 vouchers issued in the first year after Hurricane Andrew.

The Small Business Administration has issued a larger than expected number of disaster assistance applications. Since January 26th, the number of applications has more than doubled, increasing from 88,000 to 177,000 on Monday.

Over 38 miles of roadways were closed in either one or both directions in the Los Angeles area. This includes 4.7 miles of the Santa Monica freeway, the most heavily travelled highway in the nation. Interstate 5, which runs north and south and serves the whole Pacific coast, was seriously damaged as well. In addition, over 200 bridge structures are known to be damaged.

Severe aftershocks continue to cause damage in the region. The Administration urges the House to take swift action on this emergency appropriations request.

William J. Clinton, Statement of Administration Policy: H.R. 3759 - Making Emergency Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Assistance Because of the Los Angeles Earthquake and for Other Purposes, FY 1994 Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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