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New bill introduced to provide emergency funding for communities impacted by recent natural disasters

On October 11, House Appropriations Chairman, Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.), introduced legislation that would grant supplemental appropriations to help aid communities that have been impacted by catastrophic damage caused by wildfires, as well as Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.

The supplemental appropriations bill, titled the Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Requirements Act (H.R. 4008), would provide $36.5 billion in FY 2018 emergency supplemental appropriations to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) for relief and recovery efforts in response to the recent hurricanes and wildfires.

In the bill, FEMA would receive $18.67 billon to replenish the Disaster Relief Fund (DRF), including $4.9 billion that may be transferred to the Community Disaster Loan Program for direct loans to assist local governments in providing essential services.  The additional funds appropriated to the DRF can be used by FEMA to fund authorized federal disaster support activities including: emergency protection, debris removal, the repair and restoration of qualifying disaster-damaged public infrastructure, hazard mitigation initiatives, financial assistance to disaster survivors and Fire Management Assistance Grants.

H.R. 4008 would also provide $16 billion in debt relief for the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) which is currently over $24 billion in debt.  According to the White House, the recent hurricanes have inflicted projected losses of $16 billion.  As a result, by the end of October, the NFIP will have fully exhausted its financial resources (including $30 billion in borrowing authority) and will be unable to pay claims.

Finally, H.R. 4008 would provide $576.5 million to the U.S. Forest Service and Department of the Interior, within the USDA, to assist with wildfire suppression.  USDA would also be authorized to use $1.27 billion in funding that was previously provided for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) as a contingency reserve to provide a grant to Puerto Rico for disaster nutrition assistance.

The House has not set a time to vote on H.R. 4008, and is currently in recess. A vote could be scheduled soon after members return to Washington on October 23. 

For more NACo resources on emergency management, please see the following: