House to pass disaster aid reform in addition to Sandy relief bill

Denham's bill includes several reforms, including one that would allow the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to make disaster aid grants based on estimated damage costs. This change is meant to give states and localities more immediate access to financial aid, and more flexibility in how it is spent.

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The current system is based on reimbursement for repairs, which Denham argues leads to delays and significant cost increases.

The bill would also make permanent a pilot program that led to more effective debris removal projects, in part because of financial incentives for completing these projects on time.

Elsewhere, the bill would let FEMA fund limited repairs to people's homes, in cases where those repairs are less costly than the current option of providing what are known as "FEMA trailers" to people who suffered damage to their home.

And, it would allow for expedited hazard mitigation projects by streamlining the environmental review process for these projects.

The bipartisan bill is expected to be debated and approved Monday. It is co-sponsored by Reps. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) and Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.).

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