tv U.S. House of Representatives CSPAN July 29, 2015 5:00pm-7:01pm EDT
the speaker pro tempore: on this vote, the yeas are 385 the nays are 4. one voting present. this bill is passed. without objection, the motion to reconsider is laid on the table. the speaker pro tempore: pursuant to house resolution 388 and rule 18, the chair declares the house in the committee of the whole house on the state of the union for further consideration of h r. 1994. will the gentleman from georgia mr. carter, kindly resume the chair.
the chair: the house is in the committee of the whole house on the state of the union for the further consideration of h.r. 1994 which the clerk will report by title. the clerk: a bill to amend title 38 united states code, to provide for removal or demotion of employees in department of veterans' affairs based on performance or misconduct and for other purposes. the chair: when the committee of the whole rose earlier today a request for a recorded vote on amendment number 2 printed in house report 114-234, offered by the gentleman from california, mr. takano, had been postponed. pursuant to clause 6 of rule 18 the unfinished business is the request for a recorded vote on amendment number 2 printed in house report 114-234, by the gentleman from california, mr. takano, on which further proceed wrgs postponed and on which
further proceedings were postponed. the clerk: amendment number 2 offered by mr. takano of california. the chair: a recorded vote has been requested. those in support of the request for a recorded vote will rise and be counted. a sufficient number having risen a recorded vote is ordered. members will record their votes by electronic device. this is a two-minute vote. [captioning made possible by the national captioning institute, inc., in cooperation with the united states house of representatives. any use of the closed-captioned coverage of the house proceedings for political or commercial purposes is expressly prohibited by the u.s. house of representatives.]
the chair: on this vote, the yeas are 191. the nays are 233. the amendment is not adopted. the question is on the committee amendment in the nature of a substitute as amended. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. the ayes have it. the amendment is adopted. accordingly, under the rule, the committee rises.
the speaker pro tempore: mr. chairman. the chair: mr. speaker committee of the whole house on the state of the union has had under consideration h.r. 1994, i report the bill back to the house with an amendment adopted in the committee of the whole. the speaker pro tempore: the chair of the committee of the whole house on the state of the union reports the committee has had under consideration the bill h.r. 1994 and pursuant to house resolution 388 reports the bill back to the house with an amendment adopted in the committee of the whole. under the rule, the previous question is ordered. is a separate vote demanded on any amendment in the amendment reported from the committee? amendment to the amendment reported from the committee of the whole? if not the question is on adoption of the committee amendment in the nature of a substitute as amended. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. the ayes have it. the amendment is agreed to. the question is on engrossment and third reading of the bill. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. the ayes have it. third reading. the clerk: a bill to amend title 38 united states code, to
provide for the removal of demotion of employees of the department of veterans' affairs based on performance or misconduct and for other purposes. the chair: the house will be in order. -- the speaker pro tempore: the house will be in order. the house will be in order. for what purpose does the gentleman from california seek recognition? >> i have a motion to recommit at the desk. the speaker pro tempore: to is the gentleman opposed to the bill in mr. takano: i am opposed. the speaker pro tempore: the clerk will report the motion. the clerk: mr. takano of california moves to recommit the bill h.r. 1994 to the committee on veterans affairs with instructions to report the same back to the house forthwith with the following amendment. page 6, line 19, strike paragraph one and insert the following. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is are correct. the house is not in order. the house will be in order. does the gentleman from
california seek recognition? without objection. the house will be in order. members will remove their conversation from the house floor. the house will be in order. the gentleman from california is recognized. mr. takano: h.r. 1994 makes the v.a. an at-will workplace violating long-standing supreme court precedent regarding constitutional due process rights and threatening to silence whistleblowers by create agriculture of fear and intimidation at the v.a. the republican bill would allow the v.a. to immediately fire employees for poor performance, making it easier for bad
managers to immediately fire whistleblowers who report wrongdoing. while providing hardly any opportunity for employees to appeal. my friends, this is wrong. that means doctors, nurses, police officers and so many others can be fired at will with insufficient recourse. hardworking, loyal employees. doing everything in their power to treat the incredible needs of our nation's veterans. fired at will. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman will suspend. the gentlelady is correct, the house is not in order. the house will be in order. members, please remove your conversations from the house floor. members, please take your seats. the house will be in order. the gentleman from california is recognized. mr. takano: hardworking, loyal
employees, doing everything in their power to meet the incredible needs of our nation's veterans, fired at will. let me remind you that one third of all v.a. employees are veterans. that's more than 100,000 veterans' livelihoods being put at risk. this is wrong. are there problems with some v.a. employees? of course there are. and the v.a. has a process to e-- to remove these employees. in fact, during the one-year period from july 1, 2014, through july 30 2015, the v.a. removed 872 permanent employees and an additional 487 employees resigned or retired in lieu of being removed. the v.a. has also terminated 958 probationary employees. and for employees accused of harming veterans' health or
safety the substitute amendment i offered earlier would have allowed for expedited firing. instead of gutting due process rights of v.a. employees we should be providing fair and constitutionally sound expedited removal processes and encourage the v.a. to use the disciplinary tools it already has at its disposal. we all know the critical role that whistleblowers played in exposing the shocking misconduct at the phoenix v.a. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman will suspend. the gentleman is correct, the house is not in order. the house will be in order. mr. takano: we know the critical role whistleblowers have played
in exposing wrongdoing but the republican bill strips away all current whistleblower protections to federal employees under federal law that is wrong. under the republican bill, any whistleblower who has not filed an official complaint can be fired before they even have the opportunity to report danger to patient safety wrongdoing, malfeasance, or discrimination. that is wrong. the republican whistleblower provisions will encourage bad employees to file for whistleblower status to prevent them from being fired. this will overburden the office of special counsel with frivolous complaints. that is wrong. so the republican bill does the opposite of what it claims to do for whistleblowers. it offers them no protection. in fact, it will let bad employees hide behind
whistleblower status to keep from being fired. that's crazy. my final amendment protects the employees who are willing to risk it all to expose flaws and abuses in this system. if there is anybody we must protect from being fired at will, without recourse or retaliation, it is the brave men and women with the courage to stand up and expose the v.a.'s biggest vulnerability. with all due respect, i say to my colleagues, anyone who votes against my motion to protect whistleblowers from being fired should themselves be fired. thank you mr. speaker, and i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from california yields back the balance of his time. for what purpose does the gentleman from florida seek recognition? mr. miller: mr. speaker, i rise in opposition to the motion to recommit and i yield myself such time as i may consume. the speaker pro tempore: the
gentleman from florida is recognized for five minutes. mr. miller: last year almost this very same time in a bill signing ceremony, the president of the united states said this. i quote. if you engage in an unethical practice, if you cover up a serious problem, you should be fired, period. it should not be that difficult, unquote. this is a bad motion to recommit. i urge my members to vote it down and i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. without objection, the previous question is ordered. the question is on the motion to recommit. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. the noes have it. the gentleman from california. mr. takano: mr. speaker i request a recorded vote. the speaker pro tempore: a recorded vote is requested. those favoring a recorded vote will rise. a sufficient number having arisen a recorded vote is ordered. members will record their votes by electronic device. pursuant to clause 8 and clause 9 of rule 20, this five-minute vote on the motion to recommit will be followed by five-minute votes on passage of the bill, if ordered, and agreeing to the speaker's approval of the journal, if ordered. this is a five-minute vote.
the speaker pro tempore: on this vote the yeas are 184. the nays are 241. the motion is not adopted. the question is on passage of the bill. those in favor, please say no. those opposed, no. the ayes have it. the bill is passed. for what purpose does the gentlewoman from florida seek recognition? ms. brown: i ask for the yeas and nays. the speaker pro tempore: the yeas and nays are requested. those favoring a vote by the yeas and nays will rise. a sufficient number having arisen, the yeas and nays are ordered. members will record their votes by electronic device. this is a five-minute vote. [captioning made possible by the national captioning institute, inc., in cooperation with the united states house of representatives. any use of the closed-captioned coverage of the house proceedings for political or commercial purposes is expressly prohibited by the u.s. house of representatives.]
the speaker pro tempore: on in this 256 and the nays are 170. the bill is passed. without objection, the motion to reconsider is laid on the table. pursuant to clause 8 of rule 20, the unfinished business is the question on agreeing to the speaker's approval of the journal. which the chair will put de novo. the question is on agreeing to the speaker's approval of the journal. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair, the ayes have it and the journal stands approved.
for what purpose does the gentleman from ohio seek recognition? >> mr. speaker, i ask unanimous consent that when the house adjourn today it adjourn to meet at 1:00 p.m. on friday, july 31 2015. the speaker pro tempore: without objection. for what purpose does the gentleman from tennessee seek recognition? >> mr. speaker on roll call number 486, i was unavoidably detained and millsed the vote. had i been present, i would have voted yes. the speaker pro tempore: without objection, the gentleman's statement will appear in the record. the chair will now entertain requests for one-minute speeches.
for what purpose does the gentlelady from arizona seek recognition? without objection. mrs. roby: mr. speaker, i rise -- the speaker pro tempore: please suspend. the house will be in order. -- ms. mcsally: mr. speaker, i rise. the speaker pro tempore: please suspend. the house will be in order. members, please take your conversations off the floor. the house will be in order. the gentlewoman is recognized. ms. mcsally: thank you. mr. speaker, i rise to recognize teen challenge of arizona and congratulate them on 50 years of serving our community and those in need. teen challenge is a faith-based residential recovery program for substance abusers. it is often a last resort for those struggling with drug addiction and other problems. over the last 50 years, teen challenge of arizona has helped
an estimated 25,000 people through recovery programs. their success rate is an astonishing 0%, a testament -- 80%, a testament to their committed and caring approach. while i served at the air force base in tucson, i was a board member on teen challenge of arizona and i saw the difference they make firsthand. i was especially privileged to work with the springboard home for youth in crisis, a place that provides hope and healing for troubled girls in southern arizona. not many organizations can say they have had the impact that teen challenge of arizona has had and it was an honor to be able to contribute to their success. i wish them a happy 50th anniversary and many years of continuing success serving our community. they are literally changing the and saving lives every single -- changing and saving lives every single day. with that, mr. speaker, i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady yields back the balance of her time. for what purpose does the gentleman from florida -- no. for what purpose does the gentlewoman from the district
of columbia seek recognition? without objection the gentlewoman is recognized for one minute. ms. norton: mr. speaker, two weeks ago 65 republicans joined 54 democrats in voting no on the extension of the highway bill, to register their disgust with 33 extensions while the republican congress then did zero work on a long-term bill. there are four long-term democratic bills and one bipartisan bill pendsing now. today's 34th -- pending now. today's 34th patchwork extension cannot be applied to even start on the nation's backlog without assurance of funds to complete construction. yet house republicans have now
fled for an early vacation. 18 states and the district of columbia have passed state user gas fee laws without retaliation by the voters. but our share is more than half of the funds needed just to get started. the only way to stop the self-inflicted deterioration of our once magnificent infrastructure is to man up and pass a long-term bill. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlewoman's time has expired. for what purpose does the gentleman from california seek recognition? without objection, the gentleman is recognized for one minute. mr. lamalfa: mr. speaker, i rise today to thank chairman jeff miller and the members of the veterans' affairs committee, for their work in helping pass h.r. 1994, which passed the house today. the measure contains commonsense reforms so that any v.a. employee who engages in misconduct or is performing
poorly can be terminated or demoted. i'm also very pleased that h.r. 1994 contains additional protections important protections for v.a. whistleblowers. we've worked with several of them over the last couple of years, out of the oak left-hand side office, and others, other centers, that have been retaliated against for speaking out about gross miss management and possibly -- mismanagement and possible violations of law. this is an important covenant we would have with our whistleblowers so they can come forward and help us to have better v.a. performance. it's very critical we have them -- that ability to -- they have that ability to come forward. i'm glad we have this measure here and i hope the senate will take it up and pass that so we have better service for our veterans through the v.a. mr. speaker, i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. for what purpose does the gentlewoman from california seek recognition? without objection, the gentlewoman is recognized for one minute. mrs. capps: mr. speaker i rise today with a heavy heart, to
honor the life of gend lynn strong who passed away this past saturday after a heroic, inspiring battle with spinal muscular dystrophy. muscular atify. simply put, she is our hero. she died a few months short of her eighth birthday, far exceeding the odds that were given to her at birth. and in her short life, she had more of an impact and brought more joy to others than many ever could in their lifetime. her life was spent the same things many young girls do, playing princesses with friends, going to school, spending time with her sister. she and her family also used their voice to improve the lives of all of us. the strongs worked hard to end lifetime and annual caps on insurance coverage, improve spinal muscular atrophy research and promote innovation to make the lives of other children with debilitating diseases a little easier.
she and her incredible family taught those of us in santa barbara and around the country that we should never give up. thank you to her bravery and their efforts, bill and victoria, we never will. i am honored to have known her and take solace in knowing that her efforts will continue to help so many others. we miss you, but want you to know we will never give up. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlewoman yields back the balance of her time. for what purpose does the gentleman from georgia seek recognition? without objection, the gentleman is recognized for one minute. >> thank you, mr. speaker. this last sunday my family and i attended church at the first baptist church of woodstock in woodstock, georgia not the first time we ever attended that church, as we've worshiped there before. but it is possibly the most
memorable time that i will have attended that church, because it was at this service that we were having the funeral of lance corporal squire wells who is known to his friends and family as skip. skip was the youngest of those that were killed in the terrorist attack in chattanooga. as we were driving to the church, mr. speaker, as we were still miles away from the church, along the sides of the road we began to see american citizens, citizens of the 11th congressional district lining the road, holding american flags and marine corps flags. as we approached closer to the church, the hundreds of people turned into thousands of people. as we arrived at the church, nearly 500 members of the patriot guard riders, marine
corps league v.f.w. and american legion were standing, lining the sidewalks of this church, bearing american flags to say good-bye and to say thank you to a patriot. mr. speaker, i rise today to also say thank you to skip wells, lance corporal wells. although to my knowledge we never met in person, i didn't know him personally, but i do know the type of person he is. because he was a marine. which told me that he held to the highest standards of decorum and morale and integrity. he was a christian who served faithfully in the first baptist church of woodstock, which tells me he had a heart of charity and love. mr. speaker, i want to say thank you to skip wells for laying down his life for my freedom, the freedom of my children and my granddaughter. and i want to say thank you to
ms. kathy wells, his mom, for raising such a fine person, as a single mom raising her only child who has given his life in defense of this nation. and i at last, mr. speaker, want to thank the thousands of people from my district who came out to honor the life of this american patriot. mr. speaker, i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman's time has expired. for what purpose does the gentlewoman from new york seek recognition? without objection, the gentlewoman is recognized for one minute. mrs. maloney: mr. speaker, this chamber is doing a great disservice to small business owners and to hundreds of thousands of american workers by going off to recess for the next six weeks without renewing the charter of the u.s. export-import bank. it is the wrong ching to do -- thing to do. sadly the minority of ideologues in this chamber that is blocking the renewal of the ex-im charter is absolutely
right about one thing, if u.s. ex-im goes under all the export business and all the jobs supported by it will be just displaced to other companies. but what they don't mention in their rants against the bank is that the companies that will get this business will be in other countries. and the workers who get those good paying jobs will be overseas. because there are some 85 foreign export credit agencies today happy to help the companies in their countries seal the deals. we are leaving thousands of american workers at a real competitive disadvantage by leaving the u.s. export-import bank in a zombie like status, we should renew it, we should keep these jobs in america. we should put more americans to work. thank you. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlewoman's time has expired. for what purpose does the gentleman from georgia seek recognition?
without objection, the gentleman is recognized for one minute. >> mr. speaker i rise today to honor navy petit officer, second class, randall smith. who was killed on july 16 during the terrorist attack in chattanooga. randall, who lived with his wife, angie, and their three young daughters in georgia, was a model of selfless service. he was a devoted and loving husband and father who prioritized his family above all else. mr. graves: besides his military service he was an active volunteer giving back through charity -- charities like stuff the truck, the chattanooga area food bank, and providing rescue assistance during hurricane sandy. in less -- less than two weeks ago, he made the ultimate sacrifice while serving our country. randall's selfless sacrifice, sense of duty and sacrifice serve as an example for all of us. a sign at the entrance to the neighborhood where the smith
family lives sums up what i think many are feeling right now. and it reads, thank you for your service, sorry for your loss, you will be remembered. i know that our community in northwest georgia is forever grateful for randall smith's service and sacrifice. may god bless angie and their three wonderful, beautiful daughters. . the speaker pro tempore: for what purpose does the gentleman from maryland seek recognition? i'm sorry. any further one-minute requests? under the speaker's announced policy of january 6 2015, the gentleman from rhode island, mr. langevin is recognized for 60 minutes as the designee of the
minority leader. mr. langevin: thank you, mr. speaker. before i begin my remarks, it's my pleasure to yield as much as much time as he may consume, from maryland. mr. hoyer: i thank the gentleman for yielding. first let me say the extraordinary respect i have for the gentleman from rhode island mr. langevin. i had the honor of sponsoring the americans with disabilities act in 1989 and 1990 and passed it in 1990 and it was signed then by then george h.w. bush.
it was called the americans with disabilities act but should have been called americans with abilities act and should have been called that because its inat the present time was to focus on what people could do, what people would do, what people wanted to do. mr. langevin, is a perfect example of an extraordinary person with great ability, who has a wheelchair. he has a wheelchair because he has a mobility impairment that we don't have. but in serving with our colleague, he is extraordinarily able and he represents his constituency with great energy great intellect and great integrity. i'm pleased to join him in this special order. we introduced a resolution and
it is not the practice of the house to bring commemorative resolutions to the floor, so we do this special order in addition to what we would have hoped would have been the passage of a resolution. the senate did, in fact, pass a resolution sponsored by senator hatch patricia murray from washington state and lamar alexander commemorating 25 years of progress on the inclusion of those with a challenge that others may not have in our society and all that our society offers and the opportunities that it offers. mr. speaker, i have shown on numerous occasions over this last week commemorating the
a.d.a. and i mentioned the number of names and i would like to do it on the floor of this house because there were people that are absolutely critical. it is not a comprehensive list but a list of people with whom i worked very closely for well over a year on the passage of the a.d.a. first i would like to mention president george h.w. bush. this issue was not a partisan issue. president bush, a republican, i was a democrat and still am, and i worked with an extraordinary republican, member of the house, his name was steve bartlett from texas. he left the house and became mayor of dallas and still now in washington and working and we are partners, every time something happens with respect
to the a.d.a., steve bartlett and i work together on it. dave and tony. tony a member of this body a person perceived with a disbuilt of ep leadership si but one of the most abled people that any of us know. tony was the original sponsor of the americans for disabilities act and justin dart. justin dart in 1983 visited in every state in the union calling attention to state legislation turs and governors and others of the importance of ensuring the accessibility of places of opportunity of those with disabilities. mr. dart and his wife who was
with him every step of the way and was with us as we worked with the passage of the americans with disabilities act. one of the best legislators i serve with, bob dole republican from kansas, majority and minority leader, his first speech, mr. speaker when he came to the senate of the united states, was a speech about including those with disabilities. and he observed that he was an involuntary member of those with disabilities as a result of his extraordinary war wounds in italy in world war ii. and then there was phil highbloom who is on the eeoc and
a professor at georgetown law school who was myp counsel as we considered the complex issues to make sure that the a.d.a. could be implemented by all in a way that as affordable by them and reasonable. and lex freeden who is the who worked. gordon gray couple to george bush who was a critical ally in this effort and senator tom harkin from iowa was the principal sponsor of the a.d.a. and fought hard and effecttively on its behalf. and senator hatch ted kennedy, senator kennedy and senator hatch were partners in so many different things but on this they were aligned and made this
bipartisan effort a very successful one. and elaine, paul and ed markey, senator john mccain congressman ma neta, ralph neast. becky bobby silverstein who was like melissa who was my chief staffer as we considered the americans with disabilitys act. and jim sense senbrener our colleague -- sensenbrenner who is so critical and his wife who herself suffered from a disability and showed such courage in encouraging all of us to support the americans with disabilities act.
i mg mentioned local weeker then governor of connecticut, bob williams, an extraordinary individual, john wo rmp datch and patricia wright. there were thousands of others many of whom will not be known, but who came here to the congress of the united states, wrote their members, wrote them up appeared in forums on behalf of those with disabilities. the americans with disabilities act is now used as a sample and has been adopted in some 50 countries throughout the world, perhaps more. there is a disabilities-right convention which is pending and only three countries in the world have not signed on to that
convention. unfortunately, we are one. i would hope that the senate would do that in this congress. senator bob dole has been an extraordinary proponent of that convention. so mr. speaker, i'm pleased to join my friend james langevin, who has been a beneficiary of the american with americans with disabilities act and the reasonable accommodations that we ask to be affected so jim langevin can get into this chamber and in the elevator. and there is a lift on the ross trum on which you now sit so that jamesling begin -- james langevin would be able to preside. he has been up there and has
presided. that is called a reasonable accommodation. and because of those reasonable accommodations, his state and our country have been advantaged. mr. speaker, i think most of us who have been involved in the adoption of the americans with disabilities act will look back on the adoption of the americans with disabilities act overwhelmingly by this congress in a bipartisan fashion and the signing of that act by president bush as one of our most important contributions and a cheefments during our service in the congress of the united states. and i yield back my time to mr. langevin with thanks for his extraordinary example for all those in our country to look at
the abilities, not the disabilities. and i yield back to my friend. mr. langevin: i thank the gentleman. and let me express my profound gratitude to the distinguished the gentleman from from maryland, the distinguished minority whip, mr. hoyer, for his kind words, mr. speaker, but most especially because of his extraordinary commitment and the work that he put in along with countless others to actually passing the americans with disabilities act and seeing it signed into law. as the gentleman from maryland stated, mr. speaker, that law has had a pro found impact on my life and on countless other lives and will for generations to come. and i thank the gentleman for his extraordinary work. and we also thank the extraordinary lists of individuals that the
distinguished the gentleman from maryland just read off, some of whom i have had the absolute distinct honor and privilege to meet and to thank personally. and many of whom i will never have the privilege of actually knowing or meeting personally because many of "v" also passed on. but they made an extraordinary difference in the lives of millions of people, as i said both now and in future generations to come and profound gratitude that i thank them for their work. mr. speaker this past sunday marks the 25th anniversary of the american with disabilities act, a milestone for one of the most significant milestones of
the laws. as a member of congress as co-chair of the disabilities caucus and someone who has lived with a challenge with a disability both before and after i experienced firsthand the profound changes that this law has affected within our society. my life changed forever. as i lay in my hospital bed, i wondered what life could possible youly have in store for me next. . i was taught there was life after a disability. i was also incredibly fortunate to have the support of my family and my community whose generosity and concern ultimately is what made me want to give back to rhode island,
through a career in public service. but accessibility was not yet considered a civil right at that time. and i know many people with disabilities would not -- were not as fortunate as i was. so many passionate advocates and champions like mr. hoyer fought for the rights and protections enshrined in this law. for all of us the a.d.a. has been a profoundly life-altering act that has provided new opportunities and fundamentally change the way society views and treats people with disabilities. the a.d.a. has broken down physical and psychological barriers. it has opened up opportunities to education, employment and technology. it has made public transportation more accommodating improved voting accessibility and expanded inclusion in justice for millions. at its core, this ground breaking legislation codified
the collective ideal that no one should suffer discrimination because of a disability. mr. speaker, it was with this same conviction that i was pleased to support the passage of the a.d.a. amendments act in 2008, after a number of court decisions diluted the definition of what constituted a disability. when that law was signed into effect, i had the privilege of being with mr. hoyer and several of the other champions of the americans with disabilities act, original enactment original authors of the a.d.a., including a senator and -- including two senators. i also had the privilege of meeting president george h.w. bush and be with his son president george w. bush, as president george w. bush signed that bill into laufment it was such an honor for -- law.
it was such an honor for me to be able to personally thank president george h.w. bush personally for his support and leadership in seeing the original a.d.a. signed into law. when the a.d.a. amendments act was passed these rulings effectively -- the court rulings that took place that necessitated this act effectively limited the a.d.a.'s coverage and excluded people with disabling conditions that were not readily visible or apparent-like, epilepsy, m.s. and other disabilities. so the a.d.a. amendments act upheld the ideals of equality and opportunity on which this country was founded. as a result of these efforts, i'm proud that future generations will live in a world that is more inclusive more accessible and increasingly recognizes the unique talents and abilities of individuals with disabilities.
as we celebrate our accomplishments so must we recognize that our work is not finished. equal employment opportunities and fully integrated community living have not yet been entirely realized. in fact, recent data shows that 31% of disabled individuals live below the poverty line and less than 34% are fully employed. mr. speaker, as a nation we can do better and we must. it's more important than ever that we educate businesses and connect them with proper resources to create more employment opportunities. many people with disabilities have both the desire and the capability to work as well as exceptional talents to offer. mr. speaker, let us not see those talents go to waste. i've often said mr. speaker, that people with disabilities are still one of this nation's greatest untapped resources and we need to tap into that talent to see our nation grow even
further. mr. speaker the backgrounds, unique experiences and wide-ranging talents promote a culture of diversity that doesn't just play a role in the workplace, but also influences the very nature of our society. with proper awareness accommodation and investment our economy and society can reap countless rewards. we must also ensure that transportation is available and accessible to everyone so that they can get to their jobs -- job the doctor or the grocery store. i've often said that it doesn't do anyone any good if they can actually apply for a job and get the job but can't get to the job. so that needs to improve. help us realize this goal -- to help us realize this goal, i've introduced the transit accessibility innovation act, legislation that would create a competitive grant program to encourage transit systems to make public transportation more accessible and user-friendly.
mr. speaker, accessible public transportation is essential in order for people with disabilities to live independently, with full inclusion in their communities. by approving these services, we can improve the quality of life for countless individuals and families. mr. speaker, to further promote independence, we must also ensure that family caregivers of people with disabilities have greater access to critical services like respite care. respite care provides temporary relief for family members engaged in the full-time task of caring for their aging or disabled loved ones with special needs. mr. speaker, these caregivers i've often said, are unsung heroes. these care givers devote so much of their -- caregivers devote so much of their time, energy and love to their families. but in many cases they can be often unprepared for these new
responsibilities and challenges that they face can be daunting from employment challenges, to financial challenges -- daunting. from employment challenges to financial challenges. with a little bit of assistance they can continue to be extraordinary caregivers and fulfill all the other challenges and responsibilities that a family requires. so that's why i've introduced -- i've championed the respite care act, mr. speaker, with my friend and former republican colleague, mike ferguson from new jersey. mr. speaker, that law passed into law in 2006 and is already provide -- has already provided grants to 32 states and the district of columbia to help set up respite care networks for families in need. mr. speaker, i continue to push for this program's re-authorization and i included it in the military and veteran caregiver services improvement act that i introduced in april
to strengthen the support services that family caregivers of injured and disabled veterans. i think this is an important thing that we can do for our veterans. so we've come far mr. speaker, since the passage of the a.d.a. but we still have much more work ahead. disabilities don't discrimination on the -- discriminate on the basis of party affiliation, income level or gender. instead they can happen to anyone at any time. so i believe mr. speaker, that they also have the unique ability to unite us in common purpose. so as we celebrate the silver anniversary of the a.d.a. together, we must use this as a call to action and to reaffirm our commitment to equal opportunity, full participation independent living and economic self-sufficiency for people with disabilities everywhere.
let me close mr. speaker, by thanking the many champions and advocates and many unsung heroes who made the a.d.a. possible and saw it through the legislative process and put it on the desk of president george h.w. bush who signed it into law and changed the lives of people with disabilities everywhere forever. thank you, mr. speaker, with that i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. under the speaker's announced policy of january 6, 2015, the gentleman from louisiana, mr. scalise, is recognized for 60 minutes as the designee of the majority leader. mr. scalise: thank you, mr. speaker. august 29 of this year will mark the 10-year anniversary of that -- when hurricane katrina struck ground causing massive devastation throughout
southeast louisiana, as well as other parts of the gulf coast, mississippi and alabama. mr. speaker, i'd first ask unanimous consent that all members may have five legislative days in which to revise and extend their remarks and include extraneous material on the subject of this special order. the speaker pro tempore: without objection. mr. scalise: mr. speaker, tonight we're going to talk about the devastation that was caused by hurricane katrina and of course it starts with the more than 1,800 lives that were lost. people from louisiana, mississippi, florida, alabama and georgia, who all lost their lives through this devastating storm. but, mr. speaker, we're also going to talk about something else. that's the strength and resiliency of the people of the gulf coast who persevered, who rebuilt and ultimately mr.
speaker, we're going to talk about the recovery of the people of the gulf coast from this devastating storm. i'd first like to yield to my friend from the great state of alabama, mr. robert aderholt, as much time as he may consume. mr. aderholt: thank you. mr. speaker, i want to just mention to you that it's hard to believe that it has been 10 years ago in the early morning hours of august 29, just a month from today, that hurricane katrina slammed into the gulf coast. as a category three hurricane. with sustained winds up to 140 miles per hour and a storm surge over nine meters high in some places the impact of the gulf region was very devastating. while the economics can cost of the storm -- economic cost of
the storm is very difficult to measure, some estimates have put the damage over $100 billion. hundreds of thousands of refugees scattered across the country, most importantly no price tag can be assigned to the loss of the nearly 2,000 lives that were lost. in the aftermath of the tragic storm there were many hearings there were many inquiries, studies investigations reforms and policy changes that were conducted and most of those were for good reason. the initial emergency response to katrina was far less than what should be expected of our federal, state and local governments. however this evening i do want to thank my colleague for his allowing this, putting together this time. as he said, we're not here to talk about the failures so much as we are to talk about the spirit of the people that were affected. it's easy to sit back and to point fingers and to place blame. but this evening we want to talk about and bring attention
to the spirit of the people that were affected, both directly and indirectly by hurricane katrina. in the days after the hurricane, when it became clear that thousands of people would not be able to return to their homes thousands of people from louis were given housing -- louisiana were given housing and in fact housing that was purchased by fema and stationed in, actually in my home state of alabama, in the state parks. the outpouring that came the following days of support from the local community was i think best described as just overwhelming. as soon as the people found out that the refugees were headed into our area supplies were starting to be gathered together and drives were started immediately. a member of my own staff organized one of those numerous
drives on his own initiative. thousands of pounds of food of clothing, personal hygiene products were collected. they were distributed to the people. and these people that were helped had little more than just the clothes on their back. i'm also proud that after this show of support, that many of the refugees decided to make the fourth district, the district i represent, their home. in one particular case, a refugee from louisiana need -- ended up working for a state park where she had been housed. finally the resilience of alabamans who lived along the gulf coast was also inspiring as well. though the gulf coast of alabama was not the hardest hit of the region, the gulf coast of alabama was severely impacted by hurricane katrina. while there are some healing that still needs to be done, the gulf coast is not only back in business, but has returned
to life as usual and it is thriving. new shipyards are being constructed, new businesses are opening up and tourism has returned to the region. this, i believe, is a testament to the spirit of the people of the state of alabama as well as our neighboring states, as mississippi and louisiana. and as we move forward as a country and as a region, i hope that we'll not only look to the lessons we've learned from the failures of this response, but also to the lessons we learned about kindness, the lessons of charity, being a good neighbor and actually the spirit of this great nation. . i thank my colleague from louisiana to draw attention again shes not to place the blame on the organizations that we could point blame but to the spirit and greatness of all those involved in the kindness
charity and spirit that arose. and i yield back. mr. scalise: i thank you. i appreciate my colleague from alabama, mr. aderholt's comments. so much of the national attention on hurricane katrina focused on the city of new orleans and we all remember the ficts, the visuals of people that were displaced of floodwaters that sat for two, three weeks, but then of course, we also remember the many things that happened along the way for people who rebuilt, who came back, who per see veered. my colleague and friend who represents the city of new orleans along with me obviously was deeply involved in the recovery efforts. i want to yield to my colleague
from new orleans, mr. rich morned. mr. richmond: thank you mr. speaker. and thank you to my colleague, congressman scalise who represents the neighboring district from me and part of the metropolitan area of new orleans along with myself. let me start off by saying something about new orleans and the people of new orleans. the people of new orleans are a very, very resilient people and it started from the beginning of the history of new orleans up until today. we started off, and you can go back to 1788 when there was a fire in new orleans that burned 856 of the 1100 buildings that made up new orleans. that was 80% of the city burned. six years later 212 buildings
burned but the good thing about the people of new orleans, we always pick up ourselves up to rebuild and make a better life. go to 185 when we had a yellow fever and epidemic. almost 8,000 people died. and if you look at the time between 185 and 1905 45,000 people lost their lives. the city picked itself up and dusted itself off. then fast forward to 1965, and that was the year that hurricane betsy devastated the city of new orleans and that was the first storm to wrack up the cost of $1 billion in damage and i will talk about hurricanes katrina
and rita that hit new orleans and devastated the entire gulf coast but significantly damaged new orleans. and let me say for the record, even after we picked ourselves up and dusted ourselves off and started to rebuild after hurricane katrina then comes the bp oil spill. we started to create a better new orleans and better louisiana. going back to hurricane katrina which my good friend steve scalise talked about that the total loss of life in hurricane katrina is over 1,800 people. 1,577 of those people were from louisiana. and let me break down some of
the causes of death. 40% of the deaths were caused by drowning. 25% by injury and trauma. and heart conditions caused another 11%. and if you remember the devastation and destruction on the tv's that covered it, you understand the anxiety of the people that were down there suffered. let me go into the other statistics, to just say, many people always say that hurricane katrina was one of the largest natural disasters in the history of the united states. i appreciate the sentiment but factually that is not correct. hurricane katrina was a result of a manmade disaster combined with a natural disaster.
the army corps of engineers noticed that the levees in -- that protected new orleans in the metro area were not sufficient. and when the storm hit the levees washed away. there was a mississippi gulf outlet, it was designed by the corps of engineers to allow ship traffic to the new orleans, it was designed to be 100 widse wide. by the time katrina hit almost 30, 0 years after it was built, it wasn't 100 widse. it was a mile wide in its largest sections and that water coming out of the gulf of mexico caused a lot of the deficient administration. i wanted to clear up the fact that this was not a natural disaster. it had a large part to do with
mankind having their hand in it and inadequate building by the corps of engineers. before i yield back to congressman scalise, let me also say when katrina hit although the government response was lacking the american people stood up recognized the situation and opened their hearts to the people of louisiana, the people of mississippi and some of the people of texas. baton ruge alone handled 300 ,000. houston texas handled right around 250,000 people in terms of bringing them into shelters and other places so they could be safe and have some housing.
now you still have 111,000 people in houston that are from the louisiana area. i watched the extraordinary work of the representative jackson lee and al green to provide for the new orleans area. atlanta, 100,000 aevacuees in shelters with hank johns and and john lewis. atlanta still is home to 70,000. san antonio texas, held 35,000 people at the time and hold 18,000. and birmingham housed 20,000 people and housed 1,500 to 13,000. and as i attempt to yield back
or prior to yielding back, i want to cover the population decrease. i will cover more in-depth with my good good friend and benny thompson. but i would just say. the population of new orleans was 884000 before katrina and right now after katrina it was 230,000 people. and that's a decrease of almost half of the city's population. so when you look at the damage and the fookt that we lost 13 ,000 housing units you understand the magnitude and the department of the difference
station. we will start building a better new orleans and better future. we still have many needs and many things that we need to right that didn't go right during the storm. i wanted to talk about how the people of new orleans were during this storm. and with that, mr. speaker i will yield back to congressman scalise. mr. scalise: you talked about the devastation in the 18 3 lives we lost throughout the gulf coast still live with us and we remember the people that lost their lives in this devastating storms. some of the things that you saw
from the people of sweast louisiana. i saw firsthand the strength the resiliency of the people back in the time where there were people questioning whether or not new orleans would be rebuilt or should be rebuilt. you saw that conversation start around the country. but mr. speaker, that didn't last long before you saw the nation come together and make a commitment and saw the people of new orleans make a commitment and the city would be rebuilt. this is where the sorry of recovery comes out so bright and strong, mr. speaker, and that is how the people of the gulf coast, how the people of new orleans responded. they weren't going to rebuild what was broken. you saw people demanding that we rebuild better, stronger more
efficient. people started demanding that government work different, that government work bet are. those levees that failed caused so much of that devastation. people said we need to reform the way that levees are bit. you saw a citizen uprising that led to changes. we changesed the constitution of louisiana to refire that people who serve on levee boards vr experience in engineering, hydrology. you saw citizen groups. and 50,000 people signed a petition not long after that demanded that laws be changed, mr. speaker to make those kind of reforms in levee boards. and when you look at that and
the work of fema. when you look at those levee they are better. the flood protection that didn't happen by accident. you look at the political reform. and as we all know every state has got its problems. but louisiana had a bad history of political corruption going back over 100 years and the people of louisiana demanded a better political system, you actually saw citizens picking up the telephone calling the f.b.i. if they saw an ounce of pliltcrups. that was a zero tolerance. people went to jail. but it was because the public said we demand better and that helped lead to the recovery that
we see today. look at the school system today. before katrina struck norms had one of the most failed and corrupt public school systems. we had a high school top student who couldn't pass the exam. people said we are going to rebuild and demand a better public school system. and you saw sweeping reforms move through the state legislature setting up charter schools that are touted as model reforms. that didn't happen by accident but the people demanded better from government. we saw government fail. it's well documented. but the story of new orleans today, 10 years after the storm
is a story of a strong and resilient people who said we will absolutely rebuild, but we aren't going to rebuild the same way as it was before with all of the flaws and problems that existed. we are going to demand bet are. you can see the recovery. it's not over. some nadse are working to rebuild, but so many neighborhoods that are stronger today, more thrivinging today. young people coming in from other states to be part of this recovery. exciting time to be in the new orleans region today. but as we reflect on the devastation of crib katrina 10 years ago we know how much it took it come and worksing with the pastors resource council, who came together to say w