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Congress Completes Latest Disaster Aid Bill

Parul Dubey on October 31, 2017 - in Financial, News

The Senate on Oct. 24 followed the House in passing legislation to provide $36.5 billion in disaster relief for victims of recent hurricanes and wildfires, and President Trump signed into law Oct. 26.

Also included is emergency credit to Puerto Rico to keep its government functioning, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The Journal said the disaster-relief bill, which passed 82-17, includes $18.7 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s disaster-relief fund, $16 billion to replenish the U.S. flood-insurance program and $576.5 million for wildfire efforts.

The House had passed the measure earlier this month.

All of the areas struck by the onslaught of storms have suffered disruptions, sometimes severe, to their transportation systems as well as other types of infrastructure.

After the Senate action, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders quickly issued a statement saying: “The president remains steadfast in his commitment to providing the resources necessary to recover from the hurricanes and wildfires. This funding will help the millions of Americans living in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and other affected areas rebuild their lives.”

That follows an earlier bill that provided $15.25 billion in disaster aid after Hurricane Harvey struck Texas. News reports indicate that many in Congress think they will need to approve more disaster funding this year.

The Journal said the recent barrage of storms has drained FEMA’s disaster relief fund, which besides the $15 billion Congress approved in September received an additional $7 billion as of the Oct. 1 start of the new budget fiscal year. But by Oct. 23, the story said, that fund was down to $2.27 billion, according to a congressional aide.

The bill will also give Puerto Rico access to a $4.9 billion low-interest Treasury loan, the Journal said, to help pay salaries and other expenses to avoid a government shutdown there.

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