Both U.S. Senators David Perdue (R-GA) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) have called on their colleagues to support the bipartisan disaster relief package that would mean funding for Georgia and other states that are recovering from hurricanes, wildfires and other natural disasters. Senators Perdue and Isakson have been fighting for disaster relief funding since Hurricane Michael devastated Georgia and other states last October.
“Our farmers are resilient. They’ve weathered droughts, low-yield harvests, and poor farm economies. They’ve suffered through several years of low commodity prices as well,” said Perdue. “But they’ve never faced anything like this before. The strength and magnitude of Hurricane Michael was unprecedented.”
Legislation before U.S. Senators is similar to what was introduced last month by Isakson and Perdue that includes $13.6 billion in overall relief efforts, with $3 billion for critical agriculture disaster relief for farmers in the affected states. Also included in this bipartisan disaster relief package is an additional $600 million for Puerto Rico to maintain enhanced nutrition benefits for low-income families in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in 2017.
Isakson made the point on the Senate floor that Puerto Rico has already received $40 billion dollars for disaster recovery and has yet to spend $21.4 billion of those federal funds, while Georgia and other states impacted by recent natural disasters, such as Hurricane Michael last year, have not received the federal disaster assistance they were promised.
“I want to give you the facts,” Isakson began. “Georgia, which I represent, is one of a number of states that includes Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Alaska, California, and Hawaii, which have experienced significant disasters. We saw the fires in California on our TVs. We saw the volcanoes in Hawaii. We saw the blueberries in Georgia fall off the vines and be destroyed [by late freezes]. We saw what happened to these crops and Alaska’s earthquake. All of these states have received nothing yet. Puerto Rico has received $40 billion — $40 billion for what happened during [Hurricane] Maria, and $21 billion has not been spent.
“They’ve gotten a lot of money, $40 billion, and the [disaster agreement] gives them $600 million more,” Isakson continued. “There’s a lot of places in this country that are states that we represent that have gotten nothing and have had big disasters in the last two years.”
Isakson concluded his remarks by urging his fellow senators to listen to the debate carefully before deciding how to vote or, “what you’re going to do, if you fall for this scenario, you’re going to really hurt some people who will otherwise be helped through deliberations that have taken over the part of the last two or three months.”
This is the third floor speech Isakson has made regarding disaster funding aid for Georgia in recent weeks while he has led bipartisan good faith negotiations to ensure this funding.
In his speech, Perdue spoke about the “unacceptable delays” in the relief funding coming to Georgia.
“This aid should have been funded as soon as we had an estimate of the damage just a few weeks after the hurricane hit,” said Perdue. “Instead, disaster aid got caught up in a partisan spending battle, and in typical Washington fashion, Congress kicked the can down the road.”
He went on to say, “It’s unacceptable that Washington’s intransigence continues to threaten the livelihoods of the very people who sent us here to represent them.”