Sunday, December 5

Biden to Visit New York and New Jersey Reeling from Deadly Storms | United States Congress

Joe Biden will visit New York and New Jersey on Tuesday as states reeling from last week’s deadly storms and lawmakers urged new spending on stronger infrastructure to combat the climate crisis.

Shaken by haunting images of rising rivers, flooded roads and subway stations, and tornado damage caused by the storm system generated by Hurricane Ida, bipartisan voices promise to improve America’s aging infrastructure network.

The US president issued disaster declarations Monday for New York and New Jersey.

At least 50 people in the northeastern US, from Virginia to Connecticut, were killed when rainwater from Ida’s remains cascaded into people’s homes and engulfed vehicles, overwhelming incapable urban drainage systems. to handle so much rain in such a short time. Many hundreds were rescued, but many drowned, including in their cars, or were struck by falling branches as high winds hit the region and tornadoes made landfall after dark.

Some senior officials warned that the severity of the storm that hit the region last Wednesday took authorities by surprise while warning the public to get used to events like the one that the climate crisis is driving more extreme weather more often. Coast to coast. from droughts and wildfires to powerful hurricanes and flash floods.

This like the US Gulf Coast, whipped by 150 mph winds when Ida landed in Louisiana eight days ago, remains affected in many parts, with essential supplies and spotty aid.

At least 16 deaths were attributed to the storm in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

Members of Congress said the flood provided irrefutable evidence that power lines, roads, bridges and other infrastructure are deteriorating even as storms and other extreme weather events are intensifying.

“Global warming is upon us,” said US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, lamenting unheard-of downpours, including one that dropped a typical September rain in New York City. in a day.

“When you get two record rainfall in a week, it’s not just a coincidence. When you get all the changes we’ve seen in the weather, that’s not a coincidence … It will get worse and worse, unless we do something about it, ”he added.

Schumer and other lawmakers said the catastrophe is the latest example of why the nation needs the nearly $ 1 trillion infrastructure bill passed by the Senate last month.

He and other Democrats are also calling for approval of Joe Biden’s $ 3.5 billion partisan rebuilding plan aimed at helping families and fighting climate change.

“It’s so imperative to pass both bills,” Schumer said.

Democrats hope to pass both bills by the end of this month, but action on the bipartisan bill may be difficult until the larger package is ready. Progressives have said they will not support a bipartisan bill without strong supplemental legislation to advance their priorities, and key Conservative Sen. Joe Manchin has become more cautious about passing the $ 3.5 trillion budget plan.

Biden launched Friday for the bipartisan bill, citing its “historic investment” in roads, railways and bridges, as well as clean energy, clean water and universal broadband.

“It’s about resilience,” Biden said. “Make our roads and highways safer. Make us more resistant to the kinds of devastating impacts from extreme weather that we are seeing in so many parts of the country. “

The plan includes $ 110 billion to build and repair roads and bridges and $ 66 billion to improve railways. It also includes around $ 60 billion to upgrade the power grid and build thousands of miles of transmission lines to expand the use of renewable energy and nearly $ 47 billion to adapt and rebuild roads, ports and bridges to help resist damage. from stronger storms, as well as wildfires and drought.

“If we are going to make our country more resilient to natural disasters, whatever they are, we have to start preparing now,” said Republican Senator Bill Cassidy of Louisiana.

Cassidy, a lead negotiator on the bipartisan bill, has touted the infrastructure legislation as a boon for hurricane-prone states like his.

The bipartisan bill would be the first to dedicate money to “climate resilience,” including $ 17 billion for the Army Corps of Engineers to address delays in federal flood control projects.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) would receive $ 492 million to map inland and coastal flooding. Another $ 492 million would go towards improving the resilience of coastal communities to flooding by restoring natural ecosystems.

Republican Congressman Garret Graves of Louisiana said a bipartisan infrastructure bill is needed, but that the bill passed by the Senate could hurt oil-producing states by freezing benefits for states that encourage fuel production. fossils.

But Ed Potosnak, executive director of the Conservation League of Voters of New Jersey, said emergency spending, and even the bipartisan infrastructure bill, is not enough.

“I hope this storm is a reminder to all of our elected officials: this is what climate change looks like,” Potosnak said.

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