July 27, 2010

Congress Approves Supplemental Funding for Wars, Veterans, and Flood Recovery

WASHINGTON, DC – With final passage by the U.S. House of Representatives today, Congress gave its stamp of approval to a $58.8 billion emergency war funding and disaster relief bill that will provide critical assistance for Rhode Island and other states hit by natural disasters this year. This legislation will save Rhode Island scarce state and local dollars by giving the state a special waiver from the standard 25% non-federal match requirement for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Public Assistance program. Instead, Rhode Island will only be required to provide a 10% match.

“In addition to funding our troops in the field and supporting our veterans at home, this emergency aid will reduce the enormous cost of flood cleanup and reconstruction for communities across the state. This represents a down payment to help Rhode Island recover. It will significantly reduce the burden on the state to match the federal relief aid. We are also fully funding FEMA so it can meet its obligations to Rhode Islanders who have been hit hardest by the floods,” said U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), a member of the Appropriations Committee, who successfully advocated for the 10% non-federal match provision and the funding for flooded states during the committee’s deliberations.

“The floods that ravaged our state put a terrible financial burden on hard-hit families, businesses and towns, so this assistance will be a big boost in our recovery efforts. We have a long way to go, but this federal assistance can help our state end up stronger and more prepared. This bill also provides vital funding to get our troops the resources they need and our veterans the support they deserve,” said Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. “It was a pleasure working with Jack to prevail on the Senate Leadership to include these resources for Rhode Island.”

The emergency spending bill includes $100 million in Community Development Block Grants to help states that have been impacted by severe flooding this year. Additionally, the bill contains $49 million in Economic Development Assistance grants that may be utilized by states that experienced severe floods between March and May of 2010.

Rhode Island could also receive federal assistance from a $178 million pool that the Army Corp or Engineers will distribute nation-wide to help repair flood damage and prevent future flooding.

The bill includes about $32.8 billion to support our troops in harm’s way; $13.4 billion for veterans of the Vietnam War who were exposed to Agent Orange; $5.1 billion to replenish FEMA’s disaster relief fund; $217 million to fund flood prevention and recovery efforts by the Army Corps of Engineers, and $68 million to respond to the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

Now that the bill passed both the House and the Senate, which approved it on July 22nd, it goes to the President to be signed into law.

-end-

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