Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks on the Floor of the House of Representatives in support of H.R. 8987, the Fairness for 9/11 Families Act, and H.R. 6833, the Continuing Appropriations and Ukraine Supplemental Appropriations Act. Below are the Speaker’s remarks:
Speaker Pelosi. Thank you very much. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I thank the gentleman for yielding, and I thank you for bringing this important legislation to the Floor. And I rise in strong support of the Fairness for 9/11 Families Act, another vital step to support our September 11th heroes and their families.
Let us salute you, Jerry – Chairman Nadler, for your committed leadership in bringing this to the Floor, as I mentioned. On September 11th, Mr. Speaker, our nation watched in horror as unfathomable acts of terror unfolded on our soil – gripped by an unthinkable nightmare.
But for thousands of families, it was only the beginning. Children growing up without mom or dad by their side. Missing smiles at dance recitals and soccer games. Empty seats at graduations and weddings and baptisms. Yet in the wake of such harrowing tragedy, these families rallied together: turning their sorrow into solidarity; transforming their pain into purpose; mobilizing their agony into advocacy.
Some of them were very much responsible for us getting a 9/11 Commission, which some in Congress had resisted. But without their outside mobilization, it would not have happened.
The Country and the Congress greatly admire the courage of the survivors and families who have come together to make their voices heard, again, on the ongoing. In fact, it was my honor to host many of them in the Capitol just earlier this month, or actually – yeah, September, we’re still in September – to listen to their moving stories and learn how we can continue to support them.
This is an injustice, as was described. Moved by their remarkable resilience, the House of Representatives has worked relentlessly over the years to honor our solemn promise to the 9/11 families. We passed the Zadroga Act to ensure that they could receive help from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. And we passed the Never Forget the Heroes Act to permanently authorize those funds.
But there’s still more to be done to ensure they get every last cent they are due. I don’t know that any money really makes up for their loss, but what they are due, they should receive.
The Fairness for 9/11 Families [Act] corrects an outrageous injustice, finally delivering the $2.7 billion that these families are owed from the United States Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund. This initiative was established to support Americans devastated by evils of international terrorism – terror.
But for years, the wives, husbands and children of those killed on 9/11 were refused assistance from this particular fund, even as more distant relatives received compensation. Yes, they were getting funds from an earlier fund, but if you got money from the earlier fund, you couldn’t get money from this additional fund. And now we’re – this is about fairness today. As Democrats took the Majority, we ended this unconscionable disparity.
Today, we vote to make them whole – delivering the benefits they were wrongfully denied. No amount of money, again, can replace those who were stolen away, nor restore the memories and moments that could have been. But with this legislation, we can further ease two decades of anguish. And we can take another step to ensure that justice is done. And I’m so pleased that it is being done in a bipartisan way. Because at the start, that was not the case.
President Lincoln once cautioned against the ‘silent artillery of time’ – the slow study – steady fading of our nation’s collective memory. For 21 years, these families have served as a bulwark against that silent threat. Here today, let us stand with them and renew our sacred promise to Never Forget. I urge a resounding and bipartisan ‘yes’ – hopefully, a unanimous vote – so that we may empower thousands of Americans to [begin] finding peace that they deserve.
Mr. Speaker, as I have the Floor, I also want to rise in strong support of the Continuing Resolution to keep government open and working For The People. This legislation ensures full government funding through December 16th, giving appropriators more time to reach bipartisan, bicameral agreement on funding levels for the upcoming Fiscal Year. And it includes fiscal – critical funding to support the Ukraine, to respond to natural disasters and to advance many additional key priorities.
I thank the Madam Chair, Rosa DeLauro, Chair of the Appropriations Committee, for her strong, values–driven leadership to bring forth this necessary legislation. As I always say, as an – as an appropriator myself, ‘Left to their own devices, the appropriators will find a bipartisan path.’ And we thank Rosa for her ongoing work to assemble an omnibus government funding package that honor ours values as a nation. That’s the next step. But today, we proceed with this legislation.
As we do, war rages in Ukraine. Legislation we will pass today, Congress secures an additional $12.3 billion for Ukraine-related priorities, including security, economic and humanitarian aid to historic – heroic Ukrainian people. This package comes at a pivotal moment, as Ukraine’s freedom fighters work to turn the tide, liberating key cities and repelling Russian forces.
When I traveled to Berlin for the G7 Speakers’ Meeting earlier this month, it was my privilege to hear directly from Ukrainian Speaker Stefanchuk who offered an invaluable report on the state of the war. At those meetings, I reiterated our unbreakable, unshakeable commitment to stand with Ukraine in the fight for democracy.
And by the way, every other speaker of the G7, every other speaker from the G7 – or they call them heads of parliament in some countries – spoke out strongly in favor of democracy in Ukraine. So it wasn’t just me talking about the unbreakable, unshakable commitment. Others did too. And with this supplemental funding, we take another strong step honoring that pledge – our country’s pledge.
Alongside this critical package for Ukraine, this legislation directs significant funding to help American families devastated by disaster. We continue to hold all the families affected by Hurricane Ian in our hearts and prayers during this difficult time, but we need money to help them. The $2 billion or more in the Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery funding in this bill will go toward supporting Florida as well as Puerto Rico, Alaska and other communities hit by disaster. But again, we need more.
And we’re also allowing FEMA to spend up to its entire year of funding, giving the agency access to an additional $18.9 billion from FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund to quickly respond to disasters, especially appropriate now with Ian. And we will need more.
And thanks to the leadership of Congresswoman Teresa Leger Fernández, we are sending $2.5 billion to help New Mexicans begin to heal, recover and rebuild after the Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon fire. She and the Members from New Mexico were very instrumental in making sure we were aware of the disastrous mistake that was made in New Mexico and how we need to address it.
At the same time, thanks to the impassioned advocacy of Congressman Bennie Thompson, we secured $20 million in Jackson, Mississippi, which is suffering a devastating water emergency. This man-made disaster poses a direct threat to public health and demands urgent action.
Additionally, we’re proud that this legislation includes $1 billion more for Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, a vital lifeline to help families pay their bills and stay safe in their homes this winter.
Mr. Speaker, this legislation is a package For The People. I urge a strong bipartisan ‘yes’ on the Continuing Resolution so we may swiftly send this bill to the President’s desk, and I hope that we’ll have a unanimous vote on the legislation, Fairness for 9/11 Families, to again support our 9/11 heroes and their families.
With that, Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
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