White House asks Congress for $24 billion in disaster relief

White House asks Congress for $24 billion in disaster relief
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The White House on Tuesday is asking Congress to provide an estimated $24 billion in emergency funding to address natural disasters as part of a continuing resolution to avert a government shutdown.  

Administration officials said the additional funding is necessary to fulfill unmet needs from disasters over the past 18 months, including hurricanes Laura and Delta and recent disasters like the California wildfires and Hurricane Ida.

Officials said that $14 billion is needed to address disasters and extreme weather before Ida and anticipate that at least an additional $10 billion will be needed for the response to Ida, though the full scale of the damage from the latest hurricane is not yet known.

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“The administration is committed to delivering the funding necessary to help these impacted states and communities and tribes recover from the recent extreme weather events,” an administration official told reporters on a call Tuesday afternoon.

“We are asking Congress to use the short-term CR as the vehicle to ensure that we have a robust and effective response to these natural disasters and we expect and are committed to work with Congress on this in the coming days,” the official said, referring to the continuing resolution.

In addition to billions for disaster relief, the Biden administration is also asking Congress to appropriate $6.4 billion to help resettle Afghan refugees.

The administration wants the funding to be included in a continuing resolution passed by Congress before the end of fiscal 2021 on Sept. 30. Officials said that additional time is necessary for lawmakers to work on government funding bills.

“The window provided by a short-term CR will allow movement toward bipartisan agreement on smart, full-year appropriations bills that reinvest in core priorities, meet the needs of American families, businesses and communities, and lay a strong foundation for the future,” acting Office of Management and Budget director Shalanda Young wrote in a blog post on Tuesday afternoon outlining the “urgent” request.

The request came as part of technical assistance submitted to Congress on the short-term continuing resolution.

Government funding is poised to lapse at the end of September, meaning that lawmakers will need to pass a continuing resolution to keep funding flowing for an allotted period. Officials did not specify how long they want the continuing resolution to last.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck SchumerChuck SchumerFixing Congress requires fixing how it legislates Beware the tea party of the left Bottom line MORE (D-N.Y.) commended the administration’s request and said Democrats would work with Republicans to approve the funding swiftly.  

“The Senate will begin working with Republicans to enact this emergency relief by the end of September to help communities recover quickly from the destruction caused by hurricanes, wildfires and flooding – including most recently Hurricane Ida. Given the scale and scope of these natural disasters, everyone must work together to get Americans the help they desperately need,” Schumer said in a statement.

An administration official said the funding would go toward programs including the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program, the Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery Program, the Federal Highway Administration’ Emergency Relief Fund, the Emergency Watershed Protection Program and reclamation projects to address western drought. 

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The announcement came as President BidenJoe Biden White House: US has donated 200 million COVID-19 vaccines around the world Police recommend charges against four over Sinema bathroom protest K Street revenues boom MORE visited New Jersey and New York to survey the damage caused by Ida and meet with local officials, including touring flood damage in Manville, N.J., on Tuesday afternoon. Biden made a similar trip to Louisiana on Friday.

Asked to clarify the funding request for Ida, an official said that the administration was putting together the package when the storm was ongoing and that as a result, officials do not yet have precise estimates.

“We anticipate that those needs will amount to at least $10 billion and we are committed to working closely with congress to refine those numbers,” the official said.