House Passes $37 Billion Disaster-Aid Package

Tyler Durden's picture

Disaster victims in Puerto Rico, Texas and Florida can breath a sigh of relief. A piece of legislation authorizing $36.5 billion in aid for communities affected by recent hurricanes and wildfires easily passed the House on Thursday, despite some conservatives' concerns about the growing cost of disaster relief as wildfires raging in California - expected to be the costliest in modern California history - place yet another strain on FEMA's budget. All of those who voted against the legislation were from Republicans, but the bill managed to passeasily in the 353-69 vote. The legislation will provide direct disaster relief and replenish FEMA's depleted coffers as well as the federal government's flood insurance program.

The package includes $18.7 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) disaster relief fund - including $4.9 billion for a disaster relief loan account - $16 billion to address national flood insurance program debt and $576.5 for wildfire recovery efforts. It also provided $1.27 billion for disaster food assistance for Puerto Rico.

As the Hill points out, more than 80% of Puerto Rico remains without power in the aftermath of Hurricanes Maria and Irma, and major cities in Texas, Florida, and other Gulf states are slowly rebuilding following Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Congress is likely to approve still more billions of dollars for disaster aid in the months to come.

Many of the Republicans who opposed the bill bristled at the revitalization of the federal flood insurance program and expressed concern about the growing costs of natural disasters.

Congress is likely to approve still more billions of dollars for disaster aid in the months to come. Yet, many of the Republicans who voted against the relief bill said they were protesting the increasing monetary toll that natural disasters are having on the federal budget.


Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.), the head of the Republican Study Committee, said that supplemental disaster relief should be offset with spending cuts.

“It is only a matter of time before the U.S. faces the next catastrophe. But for some reason, the government does not budget with this in mind. Instead, Congress waits for a crisis to happen and then hurries to pass an aid package afterward,” he wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.


Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C) said the debts would add up regardless of how good the cause of disaster relief was.


“If we don’t do something to begin to offset some of this, I think that in a matter of months or a matter of years people are going to look back at this Congress and say, ‘what were they thinking?’” he said.


His fellow House Freedom Caucus member Rep. David Schweikert (R-Az.) said that bailing out the Flood Insurance program without reforms amounted to throwing good money after bad.

“Emergency is emergency, but there are programs we’re going to have to deal [with], bite the bullet, and I think flood insurance is one of them, where you also have a moral hazard in its current design,” he said.

The disaster relief bill is now awaiting consideration in the Senate. The bill was the second installment of funds for areas that have been ravaged by fires and hurricanes that have hammered the US this year, following a $15.3 billion relief package that was signed into law in September by President Donald Trump, as the New York Times points out. However, with total cleanup costs across a broad swath of the Southern US, along with Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, already eclipsing the $50 billion mark, much more funding will be needed.

The bill's passage comes after President Donald Trump tweeted earlier today that the federal government couldn't stay in Puerto Rico forever.

Given Puerto Rico's bankruptcy, th federal money is the island's only real hope to rebuild its devastated power grid and repair roads, dams and hundreds of thousands of homes that were wrecked by Irma and Maria. Even before this year's storms, the National Flood Insurance Program owed the Treasury more than $30 billion.

The Senate is currently away on a week-long recess, but is expected to pass the bill when lawmakers return next week.

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Falconsixone's picture

I thought that's what insurance and state funds were for. Who's getting this chunk?

hedgeless_horseman's picture


Who's getting this chunk?

Mostly home-repair contractors for people who live in flood zones, but do not buy flood insurance, or live where there are hurricanes, but do not buy home insurance or renter's insurance.  Also, the lawyers get a large cut.  

Post-Truth Society's picture

Muslim Marxist Trump is sure to sign this bill.  He loves redistributing the wealth to his white trash opioid addict friends in Texas and Florida.  Live in a hurricane prone area, and don't have flood insurance?  Don't worry, Comrade Trump will bail you all out, free of charge!

IntercoursetheEU's picture

Chump change, and I"d rather see them get it than election padding wetbacks the Dems let slip over/ under the fence

Déjà view's picture

Flood Insurance...TEXAS HOLD 'EM !

Tejas $10 Bn RAINY DAY FUND©®™…

The governor said if the state needs to tap the Rainy Day Fund for Harvey recovery, it won't be until the next legislative session in 2019. 
On Tuesday evening, Abbott spokesman John Wittman said Florida is getting a 75/25 split with FEMA after Irma — meaning the federal government is picking up 75 percent of the recovery tab, while 25 percent is up to local governments. By comparison, Abbott negotiated a 90/10 split following Harvey, Wittman said.

khnum's picture

General rule of thumb in my country is if you really want to bugger up an industry and make it full of shonks and rip off artists just flood it with government money.

InjectTheVenom's picture

 i wonder what they'll try sneaking through buried deep inside this "legislation" lol


Rainman's picture

And for their next act, a dramatic tax cut followed by insolvency.

ali-ali-al-qomfri's picture

Glad I saved my lude for the second Act.

Stan522's picture

This is the only thing dem's and republicans can both vote on... Everything else is a stalemate....

Latitude25's picture

Most of it going to pay off debt.  If your house was damaged, forget about FEMA.

hotrod's picture

37 BILLION, NO PROBLEM BITCHEZ.   Puerto Rico, Houston, Florida and Pelosi land all beneficaries.  Just add it to the Uncle Sam TAB.

Just remove the debt ceiling  WTF  We are in la la land anyway.

Dratpmurt's picture

DEbt Ceiling are you crazy. Debt ceilings are for Democrats not Republicans

aliens is here's picture

Why is anytime there is spending involved congress will pass it quickly. However, when it comes to saving money or doing something good they move slowly or not move at all. Who do they work for?

moorewasthebestbond's picture

Your tax dollars "hard at work".


Not mine!

RawPawg's picture

No Rush

Just let the suffering sweat it out over the weekend

Classy 'Merica

Rex Andrus's picture

Their cronies get the 37B, we get to share the disasters

Got enough popcorn?

Shpedly's picture

If everything goes perfectly, it'll be 36 billion in waste and fraud and a measly 1 billion to the little people.

Shpedly's picture

I'll add this recent story from a friend of mine. He's a food concessioner at big fairs and such. Calls me up and says he's going to save 300 dollars on ice that weekend. I say, "how's that"? When Irma rolled through Florida, FEMA paid this trucker to haul a tractor trailer load of ice from Indiana. He gets to Florida and FEMA says, "we don't need it". So he hauls the ice back and gives it away just to get it out of his truck. Bear in mind that FEMA paid for the ice and the shipping both way from Indiana. What the fuggity fuck?

allamerican's picture

check, where's the balance..

buffed's picture

The word is that all the PR's who went to FL could swing it to a blue state.  Maybe this well help get them back home.