Friday, December 28, 2012
U.S. Senate Approves $60.4 Billion Emergency Relief Bill
WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Senate voted 61 to 33 for a $60.4 billion Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Bill to help Rhode Island and other states clean up and recover from damage left in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.
U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse voted for the legislation, which includes federal resources to help Rhode Island residents, businesses, and local communities recover and rebuild storm-damaged infrastructure.
“This emergency aid represents a down payment that will help offset the recovery costs in Rhode Island and all the states impacted by Hurricane Sandy. I am pleased the bill includes vital funding to assist Rhode Island fishermen,” said Reed, the Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior and Environment, who authored several provisions, including $810 million for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) clean water and drinking water state revolving funds, of which approximately $16 million would be allocated to Rhode Island.
“This legislation will provide much-needed federal assistance to help Rhode Island and other states rebuild from Hurricane Sandy, and will help local fishermen struggling in the face of depleted fish stocks, tighter regulations, and a tough economy," said Whitehouse. “This funding will provide badly needed assistance to our fishermen and to our state in general, and I thank my Senate colleagues for voting to approve it.”
The bill also recommends $11.5 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Disaster Relief Fund to support disaster response; and an increase of $9.7 billion in National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) borrowing authority (FEMA is expected to exhaust current borrowing authority by January 7, 2013).
Additionally, the bill funds a variety of other programs that could help Rhode Island with its recovery needs, such as:
TRANSPORTATION: $12 billion for repairs to transit and roadways, includes $921 million to help states with repairs to federal-aid roadways. The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) has estimated approximately $20 million in repair needs due to Superstorm Sandy.
ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS COASTAL RECOVERY AND FLOOD CONTROL: $5.3 billion to rebuild and strengthen our coastline and construct other flood control projects. It includes $827 million for repairs to existing projects damaged in the storm.
COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT BLOCK GRANT ASSISTANCE: $17 billion for disaster relief, long-term recovery, restoration of infrastructure and housing, and economic revitalization in areas impacted by Superstorm Sandy. The bill requires the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development to establish a minimum award for all states impacted by Sandy.
SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION: $812 million to support the Small Business Administration’s response to Superstorm Sandy.
U.S. COAST GUARD: $274.2 million to rebuild and restore facilities and property damaged by Superstorm Sandy.
NOAA HABITAT RESTORATION: $197 million to evaluate, stabilize, restore, and protect coastal ecosystems and habitat impacted by Superstorm Sandy
FISHERIES DISASTER FUNDING: $150 million to support recovery efforts from all fisheries disasters declared in 2012, including the Northeast groundfish disaster.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE: $88.3 million to fund 362 projects to repair damaged facilities and utilities, replace lost equipment, and remove debris in Department of Defense locations directly impacted by Superstorm Sandy. The funding will help with an estimated $592,000 in clean-up and repair costs at Naval Station Newport.
U.S. FISH & WILDLIFE SERVICE: $78 million to meet immediate reconstruction and recovery needs for national wildlife refuges on the Eastern Seaboard, as well as $150 million for the Department of Interior to undertake restoration, recovery and mitigation priorities to protect against future storms and natural disasters. Superstorm Sandy battered Sachuest Point Road in Middletown, creating unsafe and hazardous conditions and cutting off vehicle access to the popular Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge.
HISTORIC PRESERVATION: $50 million to fund grants to states that received Presidential major disaster declarations for Superstorm Sandy to fund rehabilitation and restoration of historic properties.
Now that the bill has passed the Senate, its fate is up to Speaker Boehner and the U.S. House of Representatives, which is not in session until Sunday.