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Senate Proceeding on May 10th, 2011 :: 1:24:40 to 1:34:15
Total video length: 2 hours 36 minutes Stream Tools: Stream Overview | Edit Time

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Harry Reid

1:24:32 to 1:24:44( Edit History Discussion )

Harry Reid: the presiding officer: without

Mark Pryor

1:24:40 to 1:34:15( Edit History Discussion )
Speech By: Mark Pryor

Mark Pryor

1:24:45 to 1:25:05( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: objection. mr. pryor: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from arkansas. mr. pryor: so i filed a bill that's going to be in the homeland security committee this week, and i would love to have my colleagues look at it and support it if they see fit. what it does is really three things. one, it says that fema may waive

Mark Pryor

1:25:06 to 1:25:28( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: a debt owed to the u.s. in cases where funds were distributed purely by a fema error, which is the case here, because fema knew that this particular county had not passed this ordinance. fema knew that no one in this county was entitled to any assistance under this particular

Mark Pryor

1:25:29 to 1:25:49( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: provision of the disaster relief because the county hadn't passed the ordinance. and fema knew that for the entire county. in fact, they have a list of every county, every zip code in the country where people do not qualify. she was very clear, very clear about her location as she went through this process. fema, whether they admit it or

Mark Pryor

1:25:50 to 1:26:11( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: not, we can produce documentation, fema was clearly in error in giving out this check, in assuring her that she was entitled to it, in assisting her through this process. they were clearly in error. i think it's a case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing. again, i think this fema administration has cleaned up this problem.

Mark Pryor

1:26:12 to 1:26:33( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: my guess is you won't see this type of problem in the future, especially not out of this team administration. the second thing that it does is it says that they have to waive a debt owed to the u.s. in cases where the rationale for recoupment was failure to participate in a national flood insurance program. again, what this will do is this

Mark Pryor

1:26:34 to 1:26:54( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: acknowledges that fema made some mistakes three years ago. it's kind of competence 101 that they would know which counties and which residents would be entitled to this particular relief, but somehow, some way they dropped the ball. but this would make it very

Mark Pryor

1:26:55 to 1:27:16( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: clear from 2005-2010 -- again, this is a limited duration of this bill, this is really a relief bill to help a specific group of people here, that because of fema's mistake and because the folks here could not, could not participate in a flood insurance program no matter how much they wanted to -- and this particular couple did want to participate in the

Mark Pryor

1:27:17 to 1:27:37( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: fema flood insurance program, they could not do it and this would basically say you cannot now punish them and come back on them for that money. the third thing that it does is it basically -- it makes clear that the congress is not giving

Mark Pryor

1:27:38 to 1:28:02( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: any waivers in cases of fraud or misrepresentation or false claims or anything of that nature. so this is purely for mistakes and errors made by the federal government when the federal government is trying to come back in and recoup moneys that they wrongly paid. let me just run through a couple other things, madam president, and i will be glad to yield the

Mark Pryor

1:28:03 to 1:28:23( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: floor in just a few minutes. these communities that do not pass this ordinance and therefore are not entitled to participate in a flood insurance program, they are called sanctioned communities. that's what fema calls them. they're called sanctioned communities. there was a lawsuit a few years

Mark Pryor

1:28:24 to 1:28:45( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: ago that basically challenged fema's ability to do certain things, it was too long to talk about, but the court found there are 168,000 cases, most of these going back to hurricane katrina, rita, et cetera, the biggest bulk of them do. 168,000 total cases that fema

Mark Pryor

1:28:46 to 1:29:08( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: has to revisit and maybe recoup some money from people. so far, they have only done 5,000 of these cases. out of the 5,000 cases that they have reviewed, only 18 cases -- only 18 total out of 5,000, really out of 5,500 cases would

Mark Pryor

1:29:09 to 1:29:30( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: be impacted by my bill. so we're talking a very small percentage. we're talking .3% is what we're talking about here. and so this is a very tiny, very narrow exception. and let me say i'm for recoupment as much as anybody. i think it's very important that the government do it right and do it right the first time. if they for some reason can't do

Mark Pryor

1:29:31 to 1:29:51( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: it right, if there is some sort of fraud, some sort of misrepresentation, then the government absolutely should go after that money and try to recoup as much of that as possible. what we're talking about here is a 99.7% of the cases, they can pursue recruitment, but based on the numbers we have today, it's

Mark Pryor

1:29:52 to 1:30:12( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: .3% of the time where the mistake is completely on fema's side of the equation that we would say no, as a matter of fairness and a matter of equity, then they can't seek recoupment in those cases. let me say this in closing. to me this is a matter of equity.

Mark Pryor

1:30:13 to 1:30:35( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: this is a situation where this particular couple in arkansas -- we have other families too. we know of a total of four in our state that fall under this category, so we only have four out of how many thousands have received fema participates over the years, but nonetheless, this is a matter of equity because if you look at this couple that i'm talking about here in arkansas

Mark Pryor

1:30:36 to 1:30:57( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: near mount view, they basically would never have done this. they would have made other arrangements three years ago. i don't know if they would have gone to the bank. i don't know if they would have gotten a second mortgage. i don't know if they would have just sold the property and move out. i don't know. and they don't want to think about it. because this fema check actually allowed them to stay in their house.

Mark Pryor

1:30:58 to 1:31:19( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: now they're coming back in a worse condition than they were before because fema says you have 30 days to pay this back. the fact that they haven't paid it back yet and that they filed work through this process and get some relief, which fema very seldom if file this paperwork, it means

Mark Pryor

1:31:20 to 1:31:41( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: they have a little extension on the principle owed. it is clear from the correspondence from fema that now interest is accruing. interest is accruing on these folks and, again, i think they're in a worse situation today than they would have been had fema said no three years ago like they should have done. to me this is a matter of equity. i think if we were in a -- in a

Mark Pryor

1:31:42 to 1:32:03( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: court, you might use the word he's stopple. i think that the federal government should be esstopped in this situation from pursuing this money because there was detrimental reliance on the part of the family. they didn't ask for this. fema took pictures.

Mark Pryor

1:32:04 to 1:32:24( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: fema walked them through the process. they did exactly what they're supposed to do. put them in the house. saves their house. gives them the ability to say there. three years later they get a letter saying notice of debt, you owe fema $27,000. you can imagine, mr. president, this is devastating for a family on social security that really has very few other means that,

Mark Pryor

1:32:25 to 1:32:45( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: again, since they qualify for this in the first place, you know they're not high-income folks. $27,000 at this stage of life for them is a lot of money. it's really a mountain that's too tall to climb. so what i'd love for my colleagues to do is look at what we're going to offer in the committee and i hope you can support it. we'll be glad to answer any

Mark Pryor

1:32:46 to 1:33:07( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: questions if any of my colleagues want to talk about it today or in the hallways here in the senate over the next couple of days as we're working through this. i certainly want to thank senator lieberman for allowing us to put it on the markup. i think that folks around here rightly are in a recoupment mode. they want to recoup money that's been wrongly paid

Mark Pryor

1:33:08 to 1:33:28( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: and, again, i'm for that 100%. in fact, we had a hearing in one of the homeland subcommittees just the other day about?? recoupment. we've talked about this. it's very important that we stop the bleeding and the government not pay out more money than they should but in this particular case, i think the principal equity and fairness is certainly on the

Mark Pryor

1:33:29 to 1:33:54( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: side of these folks who, again, like i said are twice the victim. they're first victimized by the storm. second, they're victimized by their own government. so, with that, mr. president, i will yield t thank you. and i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the cle will call the roll.

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