Begich Statement on House Version of Natural Disaster Supplemental Funding Bill

Sen. Mark Begich released the following statement following action by the House of Representatives that stripped funding for federally and state-declared disasters in Alaska and other states from a natural-disaster funding bill that passed the House tonight:

“Alaska’s natural disasters haven’t gone away just because they’re farther away from the public consciousness,” Begich said. “Hurricane Sandy victims deserve our assistance, and quickly. But meanwhile, Alaskan subsistence fishermen who weren’t able to make their typical Chinook harvest this summer are facing real hunger. Beaches in Alaska’s coastal areas are littered with industrial contaminants and other debris from Japan’s tsunami and that could be doing harm to our fisheries as well.

“I have no desire to hold up funding for victims of Hurricane Sandy, but I implore my colleagues to remember Alaskans’ plight and that of other disaster victims across the country. The federal government went through its formal process to declare these disasters and has an obligation to provide some relief to victims.”

Begich added that he will continue to pursue funding for both disasters. As chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and the Coast Guard and as a newly seated member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Begich will be looking for opportunities to use those positions to help Alaska disaster victims.