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Congress Puts Off $81 Billion ‘Hurricane’ Supplemental

Dec. 22, 2017 (EIRNS)—In enacting a "continuing resolution" yesterday to operate the U.S. government for a few more weeks, Congress failed to pass a supplemental bill for hurricane recovery and reconstruction in the states and territories hit by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria and California’s wildfires. The supplemental, for $81 billion, passed the House yesterday, but was blocked in the Senate by Democrats who wanted to prioritize the immigration issue —specifically the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) or "Dreamers" legislation.

Thus, at the earliest point this omission might be remedied, in January, there will have been no disaster funds provided for three months beyond the $51 billion in September and October. Since loss estimates from the three hurricanes, and states’ requests for recovery funds, are both now at least $200 billion, the long gap has dramatically slowed down rebuilding—even of homes. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is virtually out of funds and has fallen far behind in acting on requests for aid from individuals, counties and cities in Texas and Florida, in particular.

The bill which passed the House included just $12 billion in funds for building or rebuilding infrastructure—particularly power infrastructure —but that would have been the first investment in rebuilding economic infrastructure since the storms hit.