May 27, 2010

U.S. Senate Set to Approve Millions in Flood Aid for RI

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Senate is poised to pass a $58.8 billion emergency war funding and disaster relief bill that will provide a $150 million emergency down-payment for Rhode Island and other states hit hardest by flooding this year. By a strong majority of 69-29, the Senate voted this afternoon to move to final passage of the bill, which will save Rhode Island millions of dollars by mandating a non-federal match of 10% for FEMA Public Assistance funding, instead of the standard 25% match.

“We have a long road to recovery and this emergency aid will help offset the enormous cost of cleanup and reconstruction for communities across the state. This is a down payment to help Rhode Island recover and will significantly reduce the burden on the state to match the federal relief aid. We are also fully funding FEMA to allow them to meet their 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 Rhode Island in committee.

“As I’ve traveled around the state in the last two months, I’ve seen firsthand the hardships so many Rhode Islanders faced in the aftermath of our worst flooding in 200 years. The legislation that the Senate will approve today makes available tens of millions of dollars to help Rhode Island families and businesses in need, support our cash-strapped cities and towns, and fund cleanups in communities across the state,” said Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). “I was pleased to work on this with Senator Jack Reed to secure its passage. Together, we will continue to do everything we can to ensure that this critical legislation is quickly signed into law.”

The emergency spending bill includes:

• $100 million in Community Development Block Grants to help states that have been impacted by severe flooding this year, focusing on Rhode Island and Tennessee, which was also recently hit hard by flooding.
• $49 million in Economic Development Assistance grants that may be utilized by Rhode Island and Tennessee.

Rhode Island could also receive federal assistance from the Army Corp or Engineers 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.

The Appropriations Committee unanimously approved the spending measure on May 13.

Today’s cloture vote required 60 votes to pass and sets up final passage of the bill in the Senate late tonight or tomorrow.

Once the bill passes the Senate, it must be reconciled with a similar version working its way through the U.S. House of Representatives.


Press Contact

Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921