"Testimony of Congressman Dave Loebsack (IA-2) on the Fiscal Year 2011"
Testimony of Congressman Dave Loebsack (IA-2) on the Fiscal Year 2011 Budget before the House Committee on the Budget March 3, 2010 - 210 Cannon HOB I want to thank the Chairman and Ranking Member for the opportunity to testify on the Fiscal Year 2011 Budget. This will certainly be a difficult budget year and I applaud the Committee’s and Administration’s commitment to a balanced budget, fiscal responsibility, and important “Pay as You Go” rules. Through its Budget Request, the Administration has taken the first step toward reigning in spending, reducing the deficit, and addressing our long term fiscal health by proposing a spending freeze, implementing cost saving measures for the federal government, and eliminating redundant and wasteful federal spending. While these proposals are just first steps, they are an important jump-start to what should be a concerted effort by Congress and the Administration to bring the runaway deficit under control. Last year I testified about the importance of actually budgeting for disasters and disaster relief costs. I am pleased that in the FY11 proposal from the President he continues his commitment to honesty in the budget by accounting for estimated disaster response and relief costs. Honesty in the budget is a crucial step toward responsible spending and deficit reduction. Just as an Iowa family would not honestly omit a cost they know they will face in the future from their household budget; neither should the federal government pretend that natural disasters won’t affect the American people. I come today to testify, like last year, about an effort relating to disaster response and recovery; specifically, the Long-Term Disaster Recovery Working Group. The Working Group was formed by the President on September 29, 2009 and is chaired by the Secretaries of Homeland Security and HUD. The purpose of the Working Group is to gather input nationwide from disaster-affected communities and states, other stakeholders, emergency managers, first responders, non-profits, and private organizations in order to formulate recommendations to improve our nation’s disaster response and recovery system. In January, I was pleased to be able to host, along with HUD and the Rebuild Iowa Office, the Iowa Disaster Recovery Learning Conference at the Kirkwood Center for Continuing Education in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. This conference was part of the Working Group’s national outreach effort, and while I wish Iowa didn’t have reason to participate, the conference was productive and brought together a wide variety of stakeholders throughout Iowa and produced common sense suggestions and ideas for reform. During the summer of 2008, the State of Iowa experienced the worst natural disaster in our history. I want to thank my colleagues for working with me last Congress to approve two disaster recovery funding bills and a tax assistance package. My Congressional District had arguably the largest amount of damage from the floods and includes Iowa’s second largest city, Cedar Rapids, which sustained severe damage along with numerous other cities such as Iowa City, Palo, and Oakville. As Iowans continue to recover, we had a unique opportunity to share what worked, what didn’t, how Iowans and the federal government worked together, and how the federal government could be a better partner in the recovery and response process. After the Floods of 2008, I began advocating and bringing attention to the need for disaster policy reforms. I will continue to advocate for reforms and Iowa’s disaster recovery needs and would like to enter for the record the common sense recommendations and best practices developed at the Iowa Disaster Recovery Learning Conference. I am also sending this information to other relevant House Committees. I would ask that the Committee give specific attention to these issues and ensure both the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, along with the Department of Homeland Security, have the resources necessary to continue pursuing this effort and the activities of the Long-Term Disaster Recovery Working Group. Thank you for the opportunity to testify today and I look forward to working with you in the future to enact the common sense reforms proposed by states like Iowa to the nation’s disaster recovery policies.