Menendez Reminds Republicans of the Duty to Help Americans in Times of Crisis

Menendez Reminds Republicans of the Duty to Help Americans in Times of Crisis

“Last week, one of my colleagues dismissed the crisis in Flint as ‘other people’s grief.’ That’s a stunning statement, shocking in its blatant disregard for our fundamental mission to protect every American. In this Chamber there is no ‘other people’s grief.’ We are all Americans – one nation – one community – indivisible -- and in a community, there is no room to brush off a crisis as other people’s problem.”


WASHINGTON, DC – Last night, U.S. Senator Bob Menendez called on Republicans to put the politics of division aside and provide the critical funding needed to address the crisis of polluted drinking water in Flint, Michigan.  Menendez recalled his personal fights for emergency relief on behalf of Sandy victims and for the potential victims of the Zika virus, including his own daughter.

 

VIDEO EXCERPTS:

“It took three full months for the victims of Sandy to get relief. It has taken months for this Congress to act against the clear threat of Zika.  And here we are one year after we learned about Flint.  And yet, the Republicans in Congress have done what they do best—nothing.

“I’ve even heard the lame counter-argument: ‘Well, Flint was a man-made disaster, not a natural disaster—so we don’t have an obligation to help – others.’  Seriously? We don’t have an obligation as a nation to help others? I reject that argument.

“The federal government always has an obligation to help a community facing a crisis -- whether leading the initial response to the BP oil spill, responding to wildfires, superstorms, tornadoes, floods or manmade disasters like the failure of the levees in Hurricane Katrina – we were there as a nation.  The question should not be manmade versus natural disaster -- it should be the relief of human suffering in any disaster.

“Last week, one of my colleagues dismissed the crisis in Flint as ‘other people’s grief.’  That’s a stunning statement, shocking in its blatant disregard for our fundamental mission to protect every American. In this Chamber there is no ‘other people’s grief.’  We are all Americans – one nation – one community – indivisible -- and in a community, there is no room to brush off a crisis as other people’s problem.

“In the case of Flint, ‘other people’ are 100,000 fellow Americans -- he majority of whom are African-American, 40 percent of whom are living in poverty -- one in ten of whom are unemployed.  The so-called ‘other people’ are children facing a lifetime of challenges, poisoned by a substance that we’ve known is toxic for decades.  The ‘other people’ are parents, whose hearts are heavy with that thought that one of life’s most basic needs—clean water to drink—is being denied to their children. 

“The ‘other people’ are community advocates that have spent the last year knocking on tens of thousands of doors, trying to get the latest information to their neighbors about the ongoing health crisis. The ‘other people’ were those whose health has been threatened by a local government that was more concerned about saving a buck than protecting their residents.

“And now their federal government is failing them – by callous dismissals that these are ‘other people’s problems’… not ours, as Americans – but theirs, and they’re on their own.  That’s not the America I know.  The America I know is one that stands together in times of crisis. 

“We see it all the time in the aftermath of a disaster – whether it’s first responders running into the burning towers on the morning of September 11th.  Whether it’s neighbors offering a place to sleep and a home-cooked meal to those whose homes were destroyed in Hurricane Sandy.  Whether it’s the hundreds of people who lined up to donate blood after the Orlando shooting.  In times of crisis, Americans stand together. We don’t dismiss cries for help as the problems of ‘others.’

“We’ve heard talk of the urgency of providing aid to the people of Louisiana in the wake of the flooding, and I agree – but we cannot let the people of Flint be an afterthought….

“…We cannot continue down this obstructionist path paved with the shattered remains of our long-held willingness to help each other in times of crisis. If we continue down this path, when Republicans are in charge, no assistance would be provided if the East Coast suffered another superstorm -- because those are blue states? It would mean that a slow-moving infrastructure crisis in an inner city would be ignored as ‘other people’s grief.’

“It would mean that – when Democrats are in charge, no relief would be provided for tornadoes in Oklahoma, or floods in Kentucky – because those are red states. That is not what we Democrats would do and it is not – at the end of the day – the way to govern. We need to stop dividing our country into ‘us’ versus ‘them’ when it comes to fundamental human needs.

“In this election season, let’s remember that we are all Americans, with common goals and shared values. Let’s focus on doing right by the American people, rather than telling them that we can solve all of our problems if we just turn the clock back to a better time, and blame someone else – ‘those people – the others’ for our problems. That is not good politics, it is not good government, and it is not who we are as a nation or a people.”

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