As Congress works to put our nation's fiscal house in order, its leaders and members should not leave Washington until they have fulfilled another of their critical obligations: to provide aid to the Northeast, a region facing unprecedented damage and devastation.
Time and again, members of our states' congressional delegations have joined with our neighbors to send hundreds of billions of dollars in aid to battered regions across our great nation.
They did so in the spirit of compassion, recognizing that in times of crisis no region, state or single American should have to stand alone or be left to fend for themselves.
Hurricane Sandy dealt our region a once-unthinkable blow.
The numbers are painful: hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses damaged or destroyed, thousands still left homeless or displaced, tens of billions of dollars in economic loss, the nation's largest transit system crippled, and hundreds of miles of coastline ravaged.
Sandy blew through our nation's most densely populated region: The affected states are home to more than 50 million people, or one out of every six Americans. More than 17.5 million Americans were directly affected by the storm.
While Sandy's power and destruction were an unprecedented event for our region, natural disasters have brought tragedy to every corner of our nation at some point. Mother Nature's wrath has affected millions of American families and businesses.
Storms and disasters lay waste to communities and deliver damage far beyond the resources and capacity of any single state to recover on its own. This is why Congress has always come to the assistance of Americans facing a recovery effort of this scale.
Two weeks after Hurricane Katrina blew through the Gulf Coast in 2005, Congress approved more than $62 billion in federal aid. One month after Hurricanes Ike and Gustav in 2008, Congress approved more than $20 billion in aid for storms that wrought $35 billion in damage.
This marks the seventh week since Sandy made landfall. And Congress has yet to act.