Congress Approves New Hurricane, Wildfire Aid


Congress gave final approval Tuesday to a $36.5 billion emergency spending plan to pay for ongoing relief from recent natural disasters – but lawmakers from storm-ravaged states are expecting more money the next time the White House asks for additional emergency funding.

The spending deal includes $18.7 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s response to natural disasters stretching from the storm-scarred beaches of Puerto Rico to the scorched vineyards of Northern California.

The bill also forgives about $16 billion of the National Flood Insurance Program’s debt, freeing up money under its borrowing limit for additional loans; authorizes $576.5 million to address wildfires in the West; and $1.2 billion for nutrition assistance programs that will provide low-income Puerto Rico residents relief after Hurricane Maria slammed the island.

Aid for Puerto Rico dominated the latest round of emergency funding. More than 80 percent of the island still is without power more than a month after the storm, and concerns are growing that a failure to restore electricity and provide basic services to residents could cause a mass exodus to the mainland United States.

The Senate voted 82 to 17 on Tuesday to approve the spending plan, which now requires President Donald Trump’s signature. The House overwhelmingly approved the emergency spending bill Oct. 12.

(c) 2017, The Washington Post · Ed O’Keefe



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