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US: Emergency disaster aid, continuation of government funding approved

The U.S. House of Representatives approved a final bill to provide additional emergency assistance to respond to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, to raise the debt ceiling to allow the United States to meet its financial obligations, and to allow for the continuation of vital government programs and services. The legislation will now be sent to the President for his signature.

Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen made the following statement on the legislation:

“This legislation is the first step in what will be a long and difficult recovery from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. As our fellow Americans pick up the pieces and rebuild their lives, we all must come together to support the victims, volunteers, and first responders on the ground. And Congress must ensure that the federal government provides the help they need to continue to recover.”

“In addition for emergency disaster funding, this bill extends the continuation of government operations until December 8, 2017. The federal government must remain open for business, and important programs and services must be maintained beyond the close of the fiscal year at the end of this month. It is imperative for all 12 Appropriations bills to be signed into law in the near future, so our nation avoids the uncertainty and instability caused by the threat of a shutdown or long-term stagnant budgets.”

“I applaud the House and Senate for their bipartisan work on this much-needed legislation, and as I’ve said before, my Committee is ready and willing to address any additional funding needs that may arise as a result of Hurricane Harvey, Irma, or any other major disaster.”

The bill, the Senate Amendment to H. Res 502, contains $15.25 billion in emergency funding to provide immediate response and recovery for hurricane-ravaged communities. Included in this amount is $7.4 billion for the Federal Emergency Management (FEMA) Disaster Relief Fund (DRF), $7.4 billion in emergency funding for Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) to help those areas begin to rebuild, and $450 million for the Small Business Administration Disaster Loan program.

In addition, the legislation contains a “Continuing Resolution” – a temporary measure to allow time for final, year-long Appropriations funding legislation to be completed. This measure will allow government operations to continue until December 8, 2017. The bill also contains a temporary extension of the nation’s debt limit, and a temporary extension of the National Flood Insurance program, also until December 8, 2017.
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