Congress adds $4.9 billion in relief for Puerto Rico to latest hurricane aid bill

Congress adds $4.9 billion in relief for Puerto Rico to latest hurricane aid bill 

Posted: 8:04 am Wednesday, October 11th, 2017

By Jamie Dupree

After an appeal from the government of Puerto Rico, the White House on Tuesday requested – and the Congress added – almost $5 billion in hurricane relief to a new package of aid money that will be voted on later this week in the House, bringing the overall cost of this latest disaster relief legislation to $36.5 billion.

“These funds are urgently needed to get resources to families and communities that are still suffering,” said House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ).

“These funds are vital right now, in the near term, to get the aid where it is needed most,” Frelinghuysen added in a statement.

The plan also includes $576.5 million to fight wildfires in the western United States, and it would insure that the National Flood Insurance Program gets $16 billion in debt relief, “to make necessary insurance claims payments” to those hit by this year’s hurricanes.

The language of the this latest bill was made public late on Tuesday night, as the emergency plan would add $18.7 billion to the federal government’s “Disaster Relief Fund” at FEMA.

The House is expected to vote on this new aid plan on Thursday. Senate action could come next week.

The original White House request was for $12.7 billion in FEMA disaster aid money; the House version of the relief plan does not address requests made in recent days by officials in Florida and Texas, which respectively asked for $27 billion and $19 billion in aid – just for their states.

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