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Transcript: New York Gov. Kathy Hochul on "Face the Nation," Oct. 1, 2023

Hochul on last-minute disaster assistance
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul says last-minute disaster assistance is "unconscionable" after record-breaking rain 05:41

The following is a transcript of an interview with New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, that aired on "Face the Nation" on Oct. 1, 2023.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The rainfall in New York these past few days shattered records with the most rain ever recorded in one day in some places. Once unimaginable, these kinds of scenes are becoming more common and the need for disaster aid more urgent. New York Governor Kathy Hochul joins us from Albany. Good morning, Governor. 


MARGARET BRENNAN: You called this life threatening rainfall event. The subways were shut, part of LaGuardia Airport shut down due to flooding. I mean, this is stunning. Do you have an assessment of the level of damage?

GOV. HOCHUL: Well, that's exactly what we're doing right now Margaret, is asking the local counties and the boroughs that were affected to add up the amount of money, it has to hit a certain threshold in order to be eligible for FEMA reimbursement. And that's another whole topic about how with these all too frequent 100 year storms, and indeed we had a 1,000 year storm event just a couple of months ago. We need to reassess how we reimburse states and homeowners after these cataclysmic weather events. And so we're doing the assessment right now, that'll take place over the next couple of weeks. But we got through the worst. But in my position, having issued nine weather related emergency declarations and the two years I've been governor, we have to be ready for this to happen again, even in another week from now. So that is, that is the new world we're in.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, late last night Congress did reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program that was in question for a bit. What federal aid are you expecting to need here?

GOV. HOCHUL: Well, we need help to help build up our resiliency, help the business owners that had to shut down, help reimburse localities for the overtime and the extra resources, they had to expand with emergency teams on the ground. We had 28 rescues from our Swiftwater rescue teams and all that should be reimbursable from the federal government. So we have our list. But again, for the Republicans in Congress to even toy with the fact and hold over our heads, there might not be flood insurance or disaster assistance up until the final hour, that's unconscionable. And it's tone deaf to what states like New York and many others are going through in this new era of climate change where the unknown is becoming the norm here.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But given this concern about fiscal spending, I do want to ask you, you know, NASA had a report out a few days ago saying parts of New York City are sinking from both human and natural factors. And that can impact flooding risk. So if that's true, you have to rebuild a whole lot of infrastructure and taxpayers did pump in billions to that national effort. Is there enough in the federal infrastructure plans here to do what you need to do?

GOV. HOCHUL: Well, we're not the only vulnerable part of our country. Look at low lying areas of Florida and other states that are just being pummeled with hurricanes. And so no, all of our states are going to need some level of greater assistance and for Congress to even question whether they'll do the basics for us, and hold- hold us hostage, wondering if we're going to be able to get this essential relief for our homeowners and our businesses, that's just wrong. So yes, we need a full assessment of communities like New York City, one of our challenges in New York City and why the flooding is so- so devastating and floods into our subways and- and homes, is that the new york city sewer system was built over 100 years ago with a capacity of one and three quarters inches per hour. We shattered that record just a couple of days ago, we had double that. So the volume of water needs a place to go. So we need massive infrastructure dollars. And I thank President Biden for helping send money to states like New York to help us build up that resiliency, but it's going to be a long process. In the meantime, we're always having to prepare for the next disaster.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But it's stunning that a trillion dollars is not is not sufficient. nationally. I want to ask you as well about the other crisis you've been raising alarms about not is the strain due to migrants. There were no border provisions in this congressional bill that just passed. And I know you've said you've had to manage without help from Washington. What would you ask Congress to get done in the next 45 days?

GOV. HOCHUL: Well, shame on Speaker McCarthy and the Republicans in Congress, including the nine from New York state who are complaining like crazy about the migrants, but refuse to work with President Biden and come up with a sensible border strategy. It can be done. This can be done in a bipartisan way, comprehensive immigration reform–


MARGARET BRENNAN: –What specifically do you want? 

GOV. HOCHUL: Well, we want them to have a limit on who can come across the border. It is too open right now. People coming from all over the world are finding their way through, simply saying they need asylum, and the majority of them seem to be ending up in the streets of New York and that is a real problem for New York City. One hundred and twenty five thousand newly arrived individuals, and we are being taxed. We are always so proud of the fact that New York has the Statue of Liberty in our harbor- harbor. We are one of the most diverse places on earth because of our welcoming nature and our- it's in our DNA to welcome immigrants. But there has to be some limits in place. And Congress has to put more controls at the border and not in this budget threat, shutdown threat. Talk about eliminating positions for Border Patrol, well, we actually need to double or quadruple those numbers. So get back to work and do your jobs.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Governor, good luck. Face the Nation will be back in one minute. Stay with us.

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