Hurricane Sandy Legislation Update and Advocacy Request

By Shaw Sprague posted 01-14-2013 15:28

Working to the very last minute, Congress tried but ultimately failed to pass Hurricane Sandy relief legislation in the 112th Congress. The $60.4 billion package that passed the Senate in December included provisions to fund National Park Service construction activities—which would have included repairs to Ellis Island—and the Historic Preservation Fund (HPF). The relief bill did not include tax provisions, including provisions to temporarily increase the Historic Tax Credit. When the opportunity to vote on the measure presented itself in the House, Speaker Boehner chose not to bring the bill to the floor for a vote, instead opting to let it expire at the end of the Congress.

House leadership promised to make Hurricane Sandy disaster assistance the first priority of the 113th Congress, and on January 4, the first full legislative day of the new Congress, the House and Senate passed a $9.7 billion installment to temporarily increase the National Flood Insurance program’s borrowing limit. During the week of January 14, the House is expected to take up the remaining $51 billion installment by voting on two separate measures—the first is a $17 billion bill sponsored by Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers and the second is a $33 billion amendment sponsored by Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen of New Jersey. The Frelinghuysen amendment includes provisions that mirror the Senate-passed language related to the NPS construction activity and the HPF. Passage of the relief measure in the House is uncertain as several amendments have been filed that propose to reduce overall spending levels—including amendments that would dramatically reduce funding for NPS construction activities and the HPF.

The National Trust is encouraging members to contact their representatives to express support for the Frelinghuysen amendment and to voice opposition to any amendment that would reduce the amount for NPS construction activities and the HPF. To help you we've developed a series of talking points below.

Support the Frelinghuysen Amendment to the Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief Legislation!!

Talking Points

In response to extensive damage caused by Hurricane Sandy, supplemental funding is needed to provide the National Park Service with the resources it needs to repair damaged historic resources, including Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty.

  • Supplemental funding for the Historic Preservation Fund is also urgently needed to help communities stabilize, rehabilitate, and repair historic structures and sites listed in or eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.
  • HPF funding will be used immediately to stabilize and repair damaged—but salvageable—historic buildings before weather and the elements lead to further erosion.
  • HPF money does not come from tax revenue. Offshore oil and gas lease revenues provide an existing dedicated funding stream for the HPF.
  • Supplemental funding for the HPF will be delivered efficiently and effectively. SHPOs already possess a grant delivery infrastructure. HPF funds are distributed through State and Tribal Historic Preservation Offices to help fulfill the Department of Interior’s responsibilities under the National Historic Preservation Act.
  • Destinations such as South Street Seaport Museum, Gateway National Recreation Area, and Castle Clinton in Battery Park, N.Y., were badly flooded. There was extensive damage to historic commercial buildings and residences on Coney Island and Jones Beach and towns up and down the Jersey Shore—including Atlantic City. These historic properties and communities drive tourism, a key component of the region’s economy.
  • We are encouraged that the Hurricane Sandy relief legislation that passed the Senate on December 28, included $50 million for the Historic Preservation Fund as well as $348 million for the National Park Service.
  • Please support Representative Frelinghuysen’s amendment that would provide $50 million for the Historic Preservation Fund and $348 million for the National Park Service to repair historic resources.
  • Please oppose Representative McClintock’s second-degree amendment (#23) that would drastically cut funding for the NPS (to $52 million) and the HPF (to $10 million).

Shaw Sprague is the director for Government Relations and Policy at the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

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