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House Approves $36.5 Billion Disaster Relief Funding

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Washington, October 12, 2017 | comments
WASHINGTON – Today the U.S. House of Representatives approved $36.5 billion in supplemental relief funding to help the victims of recent wildfire and hurricane disasters, which U.S. Representative Jeff Denham (R-Turlock) supported.

Watch Rep. Denham’s remarks on the House floor.

“While I’m encouraged that Congress is expediting disaster recovery for communities devastated by wildfires, hurricanes and flooding, we need to do more,” said Rep. Denham. “As we recover, we should do so with future disasters in mind. Encouraging our communities to rebuild to a higher standard will save lives and taxpayer dollars.”

Rep. Denham has a proven legislative record with congressional disaster response. He authored the Sandy Recovery Improvement Act of 2013 (SRIA), which was signed into law on Jan. 29, 2013 to address inefficiencies in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) programs that slow down and increase costs of recovery. The measures helped communities and tribes recovering from Hurricane Sandy but were written with future disasters in mind, such as the California wildfires and recent hurricanes in the southeastern United States and Puerto Rico.

SRIA was signed into law with the Disaster Supplemental under Rep. Denham’s leadership as the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Subcommittee on Public Buildings and Emergency Management, and it established procedures where local governments can accept recovery grants based on fixed, capped estimates, with the flexibility to spend the money in the best way possible as determined by locals.

While SRIA has been a huge success, the initial project limit of $120,000 has proven to be too low for major disasters. On March 27, 2017, the House passed H.R. 1214, the Disaster SAVE Act, which Rep. Denham co-sponsored, to increase the disaster assistance threshold to $500,000. With costs soaring in the billions, states would benefit from the red-tape reductions that this bill presents. The bill awaits action in the Senate.

“As Congress considers additional aid to get families and businesses back on their feet, policy reforms and resiliency incentives should be included to position us to more quickly recover from future disasters,” Rep. Denham added.
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