Reps. Green and Wagner Pass Critical Disaster Recovery Legislation

Nov 18, 2019 Issues: Financial Services

(Washington, D.C.) – On Monday, November 18, 2019, Representatives Al Green (D-TX) and Ann Wager (R-MO) released the following statement after the House of Representatives passed their critical legislation H.R. 3702, the Reforming Disaster Recovery Act of 2019:

Congressman Green stated, “For 26 years, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has administered the Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery Program (CDBG-DR), to deliver crucial funding for those impacted by natural disasters and other catastrophic events. Since then, billions of dollars have been allocated to those in dire need of help. However, the system currently in place has never been codified into federal law and requires a new process after every disaster that occurs, delaying and complicating the distribution of funds to impacted communities.”

“This is why we introduced H.R. 3702 (the Reforming Disaster Recovery Act of 2019 or the Green-Wagner Bill). This legislation will establish basic requirements for disaster recovery and bring consistency to the distribution of disaster relief resources from HUD. It will formalize the process of allocating disaster relief funds, thus providing a faster and more efficient process. This codification will protect against the misuse of relief funds and help ensure resources are directed as intended toward disaster recovery.”

“I have worked closely with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and collaborated with low-income housing activists, major grantees, as well as many other key stakeholders to craft this legislation. I must give a special thank you to Congresswoman Ann Wagner for her consistent bipartisan partnership on this bill. Last, I express my gratitude to Chairwoman Maxine Waters for her steadfast leadership of the Financial Services Committee, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer for helping to shape H.R. 3702 and bring it to the House Floor, as well as all staff for the work they do to support the committee and Member offices.”

“I am confident that the Green-Wagner Bill will not only protect the victims of natural disasters, but also save federal time and valuable resources for the benefit of disaster survivors.”

“Taxpayer dollars spent on disaster relief must be allocated wisely and efficiently. Every disaster relief dollar diverted to an ineffective or wasteful use is a dollar that is not going to help people in need,” Congresswoman Wagner indicated. “The CDBG-DR program must be codified and reformed to increase oversight and accountability, and ensure disaster relief dollars go directly and expeditiously to those who need them the most. Codification provides proper controls that protect against waste, fraud, and abuse. It’s about time Congress makes this disaster relief program accountable to the people we serve and to American taxpayers in every state.”

According to Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Waters, “Following the destruction of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Michael, and Maria, the wildfires in California and the West, and numerous other natural disasters across America, families and communities continue to struggle in their efforts to recover. As Chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee, I am committed to ensuring that all Americans are well-equipped to recover from the devastating impact of natural disasters as they work to rebuild their lives. That is why I was pleased to work with Representatives Green and Wagner to pass their critical legislation to permanently authorize the CDBG-Disaster Recovery Program. CDBG-DR funding is an important part of the recovery process as it provides funding to revitalize communities and respond to local need. This important legislation will help to streamline the allocation of disaster relief funds and ensure that the process for distributing funding is more efficient and equitable.”

“I am proud to bring the Reforming Disaster Recovery Act to the House Floor today to ensure that homes, schools, hospitals, and other infrastructure in the U.S. are rebuilt stronger and more resilient following natural disasters,” said Leader Hoyer. “We know that storms and other disasters are becoming more frequent and severe as a result of climate change, and it is critical that we help communities rebuild to stronger standards to ensure they are not as vulnerable to future disasters. It’s the right thing to do for our communities and it will save taxpayer dollars. After leading a bipartisan Congressional delegation visit to Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virginia Islands, and the Florida Keys, I saw firsthand how important it is to rebuild to twenty-first century standards. Since then, I have been working to ensure disaster relief funds are used for that purpose. This is a key part of that effort, and I thank Rep. Green for his leadership on this bipartisan legislation.”