The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure has advanced a bipartisan bill aimed at expediting FEMA aid after a major disaster, sponsored by Rep. Garret Graves (R-LA) and co-authored by V.I. Delegate Stacey Plaskett.
The legislation, the Expediting Disaster Recovery Act, authorizes the president, after the declaration of a major disaster, to direct the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide the assistance necessary for meeting unmet needs due to such disaster, according to Plaskett’s office.
“I am pleased that the Transportation and Infrastructure committee successfully passed the Expediting Disaster Recovery Act – a bill that creates a separate funding stream for FEMA, after the declaration of a major disaster, to expeditiously (within 30 days) allocate additional assistance to cover unmet needs as a result of such disaster,” Plaskett said in a statement announcing the bill’s advancement.
“After the experiences of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, it was abundantly clear that our territory and the other disaster-impacted areas need the support of the federal government to rebuild lives, businesses, and communities as quickly as possible. This bill cuts out some of the unnecessary federal process to put a minimum amount of long-term recovery funding on the ground in the immediate aftermath of a major disaster without taking away oversight of taxpayer dollars,” said Plaskett.
“When disaster strikes, disruptive changes happen to people fast – the federal response needs to match the urgency that victims feel after having their lives turned upside down. By establishing a separate funding stream for FEMA to disburse at least 10 percent of the estimated amount of grants for repair, restoration, and replacement of damaged facilities and assistance to individuals and households, and in the immediate aftermath of natural disasters to address long-term rebuilding needs, this bill plans to start to fix the slow, unnecessary federal processes that often re-victimize people and jeopardize recovery for entire communities,” the delegate said.
The bill would require localities to submit reports six months after receiving funds (and every six months after that until funds are expended) detailing how the funds were used, she said. It also would clarify that funds can be used to ensure homes are habitable during long-term recovery from natural disasters and that direct assistance for permanent or semi-permanent housing is permissible if it is a cost-effective alternative to other housing solutions, said Plaskett.
“The next step in this process will be for full House consideration. The bill must still come to the Floor of the House of Representatives and be passed by the House and then also by the Senate before it gets to the president’s desk for signature into law. I am confident the measure will be considered by the full House in short order, and we are working to have a companion measure considered by the Senate,” she said.
Follow the progress of H.R. 5774 by clicking here.