Leader Steny Hoyer and Whip James Clyburn join Gulf Coast Members. From Democratic Whip Clyburn’s office:
Clyburn Announces Legislation to Speed Up Relief to Gulf Coast
Bill Would Waive 25 Percent Local Funding Match Under Stafford Act and Forgive Community Disaster Loans
WASHINGTON, DC–House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn today announced plans to introduce legislation to help cut the bureaucratic red tape and speed up funding assistance to areas in the Gulf Coast impacted by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The legislation waives the 25 percent local funding match required under the Stafford Act and cancels the required repayment of Community Disaster Loans. Clyburn will introduce the legislation tomorrow and the Majority leadership has made a commitment to move the bill quickly through the House. In addition, Clyburn announced he will meet with committee chairmen on Friday to explore the long-term legislative issues relating to hurricane recovery.
“When I came to Congress in 1993, we waived the Stafford Act requirements for victims of Hurricane Andrew, later we waived the requirements for those impacted by Hurricane Iniki, and of course we waived the Stafford Act requirements for the recovery after the 9/11 attacks,” said Clyburn. “I am truly puzzled as to why we have not waived the local match requirements for the people of the Gulf Coast, impacted by the largest natural disaster in our nation's history. But we now have a Congress that is willing to do what it takes to address the needs of the people of Louisiana and Mississippi. Let me be clear that this is one part of a two-pronged approach. The Democratic Leadership is committed to moving this piece quickly, but to address the longer-term legislative issues, I am convening a meeting tomorrow with the committee chairmen who have jurisdiction over these issues so we can chart a course of action to bring relief to the area. We must honor the promises we made to the people of the Gulf Coast when we visited this summer.”
Clyburn last August, when he was Chairman of the Democratic Caucus, organized a three day trip to the Gulf Coast with 25 Democrats on the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. The Majority Whip will now lead efforts to put together a legislative package that adequately responds to the disaster. Following is additional information on the bill announced today, The Hurricane Katrina and Rita Federal Match Relief Act of 2007.
Hurricane Katrina and Rita Federal Match Relief Act of 2007
- The legislation waives Title IV of Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act which requires 25 percent state match for direct emergency assistance, assistance for hazard mitigation measures, repair of damage facilities, and assistance to individuals for Mississippi and Louisiana.
- In addition it cancels required repayment of the Community Disaster Loans which has always been done for states affected by natural or man-made disasters.
- In waving the state match requirements of the Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, FEMA is directed to fully cover expenses provided in the Stafford Act which Mississippi and Louisiana have submitted to them. FEMA would move forward with recovery projects and use money currently in their accounts to cover what would have been the state's portion up to the date of enactment of our bill.
- Canceling repayment of Community Disaster Loans (CDL) simply removes the prohibition that was inserted into current law by the Republican Congress for loans made to the Gulf Coast states. The current law allows the President to cancel repayment of CDL loans in concert with a set of statutory benchmarks relating to a states' ability to repay. This legislation simply allows for current law to be expressed so that loans which have been made to Mississippi and Louisiana up to the point of enactment of this legislation will be forgiven, in the same fashion as loans made to New York during 9/11, Florida during Hurricane Andrew, and Hawaii during Hurricane Iniki.
- The legislation is budget neutral.