WASHINGTON – The White House urges Congress to approve at least $ 24 billion – and possibly more – for disaster relief costs, saying the aid should be included in a short-term spending bill expected this month.
This tally includes $ 14 billion for recovery costs related to extreme weather events, including hurricanes, floods and wildfires over the past 18 months, before the recent destruction caused by Hurricane Ida in Louisiana, in New Jersey and elsewhere.
Officials in the Biden administration have said they also expect at least an additional $ 10 billion to be needed to deal with Ida’s destruction, and that they will work with Congress on a cost. firmer once further damage assessments are completed.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (DN.Y.) quickly accepted the request as “just what’s needed to help hard-hit communities across the country.” He said in a statement Tuesday that Senate Democrats would work with Republicans to approve emergency relief by the end of September.
“Given the scale and scope of these natural disasters, everyone must work together to give Americans the help they desperately need,” Schumer said.
The Biden administration’s request for emergency funding of Congress came as President Joe Biden traveled to New York and New Jersey on Tuesday to assess the damage caused by heavy rains and flooding from Hurricane Ida. The number of deaths linked to this storm has risen to at least 60, according to Axios, including 27 in New Jersey.
It also came as Congress seems unlikely to complete its work by passing spending bills for the entire year before the end of the current fiscal year on September 30. That means lawmakers, who return to Washington later this month, are expected to pass a short deadline. resolution term continues to avoid a government shutdown.
In a blog post Detailing the request to Congress, Shalanda Young, acting director of the Bureau of Management and Budget, wrote that the Biden administration “is committed to providing the necessary funding to help affected states and tribes recover from the recent extreme weather events and natural disasters “.
Young wrote that this includes help to recover not only from recent extreme events, but also to meet unmet needs from previous disasters, including Hurricanes Laura and Delta, which devastated Louisiana last year.
In a conference call with reporters, administration officials said one in three Americans lived in counties hit by a weather disaster in the past three months.
“Just over the summer, 100 million Americans were affected by extreme weather conditions, obviously in the northeast, in the west with wildfires, and then on the Gulf Coast,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki at a briefing Tuesday.
Psaki reiterated that Biden approved the major disaster declarations to help emergency repairs in New York and New Jersey. She also said that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has provided approximately $ 170 million in individual aid to more than 159,000 disaster survivors in Ida, and that the Small Business Administration has distributed $ 4.7 million. of loans in Louisiana.
Estimates were not yet available on how the disaster relief dollars requested by the Biden administration would be allocated to states and local communities affected by wildfires and extreme storms.
Relief money would be allocated through SBA Disaster Loans, Community Development Block Grants, Highway Emergency Relief, and FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund.
The administration’s request to Congress also includes $ 6.4 billion for the treatment and resettlement of Afghans evacuated as US military forces left that country.