White House Requests Additional Disaster Recovery Funds

The White House has requested an additional $44 billion from Congress in disaster aid, which includes a request for $12 billion going to a forward-looking Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) flood mitigation competition, and a majority of the remaining $32 billion going to traditional disaster relief through FEMA and Small Business Administration (SBA) programs. If Congress approves the White House request, the total recovery aid appropriated in 2017 would reach nearly $100 billion. However, government officials in states affected by recent natural disasters have expressed dissatisfaction with the most recent request. Texas has requested $61 billion, Florida has requested $27 billion, and Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello sent a letter to President Trump requesting $94.4 billion, including more than $46 billion in CDBG-DR funds – $31 billion of which would go to repairing or rebuilding the more than 472,000 housing units that were severely damaged or destroyed. The Administration’s recent request includes funding for continued recovery activities in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI), but acknowledges that damage assessments are ongoing in Puerto Rico and indicates that it will send an additional request for long-term recovery funding once the territory’s needs are better known. The Administration’s request also expressed support for reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), as seen in the 21st Century Flood Reform Act (H.R. 2874), which passed the House earlier this month.

Marking a shift from the previous two disaster relief bills approved this year, the Administration’s request also included spending cuts to offset the cost of the supplemental appropriations. Congress is expected to address this disaster request as part of a year-end spending bill needed to avoid another government shutdown when current funding runs out on December 8.

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