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Congress on Track to Pass Additional $36.5 Billion in Disaster Aid

President Donald Trump is expected to sign an emergency supplemental spending bill as early as Wednesday, October 25 to provide additional funding for hurricane and wildfire relief and recovery. On October 12, the House approved a bill providing $18.7 billion for FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund, $576.5 million for wildfire efforts, and $16 billion for debt relief for the National Flood Insurance Program. The bill does not include additional funds for Community Development Block Grants for Disaster Relief (CDBG-DR), which were requested by the Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico congressional delegations. The Senate will vote on the bill early this week.

The bill must be passed quickly in order to avoid FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund being depleted. Any changes made by the Senate would need to go back to the House for another vote before the bill heads to the president’s desk for his signature.

Texas Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) said he plans to vote for the emergency spending package based on assurances from Mr. Trump that the state will receive additional funding in a third supplemental request to be submitted to Congress next month. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) has warned that waiting to add additional resources until the next emergency spending bill, however, may cause serious challenges for the recovery process in Puerto Rico. He suggested that Puerto Rico may not have enough money to keep its government open past 30 or 45 days.