Congress considers nearly doubling the disaster relief package requested by the White House to $81 billion
Republican lawmakers have proposed almost doubling the disaster aid funds requested by President Trump in November to $81 billion to cover hurricane damage in Texas, Florida, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico, as well as devastating fires across the west. "This proposal would be the biggest single package for disaster relief in U.S. history," Axios writes.
The package arises as Congress is in the midst of wrestling with government funding, with several bills on the table in the House — "one with the relatively popular stuff (keeping government open and children's health insurance) and another one, which will include a six-month patch of a key surveillance law," Politico writes. "It's not yet clear how they'll handle the disaster supplemental."
But as fires continue to rage in Southern California, the urgency is felt. "This legislation is the next step in helping our fellow Americans recover from multiple, back-to-back, devastating disasters, including some of the largest major hurricanes, wildfires, and agriculture losses this country has ever seen," said House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.).
If the bill is passed, 2017 could total more than $130 billion in emergency aid spending, which exceeds even what Hurricane Katrina cost taxpayers. In addition to billions for FEMA and the Army Corps of Engineers, the $81 billion package also contains money for "education programs, highway rebuilding, small business loans, and military construction projects," Politico writes. The House could vote as early as Wednesday.