Report: Cantor pressed FEMA for timeline on emergency aid to his district during budget fight

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As Congress was sorting out its budget issues, the agency was moving around money and halting projects to keep relief funds available through the end of the fiscal year, Sept. 30. The agency has slowed payments to individuals and local governments rebuilding after disasters in order to keep available funds for immediate needs like firefighters and search-and-rescue teams.

FEMA's maneuvering allowed the Senate to drop an additional $1 billion in funding for FEMA in the current fiscal year that was included in the House-approved spending measure. The Senate also killed language cutting $1.5 billion in funds for a clean energy program from the final bill. House Republicans had included the cut as an offset for the 2011 FEMA funds, but Democrats argued the reduced funding for the energy program would cost jobs.

Cantor later said that the money needed for victims of the East Coast earthquake and Hurricane Irene probably wouldn't need to be paid for with spending cuts elsewhere.

"When we are talking about offsets, that only has to do with this ad hoc sort of spending that has taken place in the past, which is what we tried to correct," Cantor said earlier this month. "Because what had been going on in the past is, instead of fully funding the emergency disaster relief accounts, we didn't do that and then diverted the money elsewhere."

According to Cantor's office, FEMA was unable to provide the congressman with more information about when aid would be available to his constituents.

“FEMA said they have received the Governor’s request and sent it to the White House for a decision but could not provide any specific information on timing,” a readout of the congressman's call with FEMA provided to the press said. “Even when asked for an estimate based on past applications they were unable to do so.”


This post was updated at 4:50 p.m.