Financial Regulation News

Legislation seeks disaster recovery reform

By Douglas Clark

A group of lawmakers have reintroduced legislation they maintain would reform disaster recovery efforts via a housing and community development disaster assistance fund.

U.S. Sens. Brian Schatz (D-HI), Susan Collins (R-ME), Patty Murray (D-WA), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) joined nine colleagues in recently detailing the Reforming Disaster Recovery Act (S. 1686). It authorizes the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to provide, from the fund, assistance through a community development block grant disaster recovery program.

“Right now, communities in crisis are forced to wait for Congress to pass a disaster funding bill before HUD can help,” Schatz, Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development chairman, said. “This bill changes the law so they no longer have to wait. As soon as a disaster strikes, communities can begin the process of recovery.”

Bill provisions include supporting resilience as a part of, rather than separate from, disaster recovery, authorizing quick release funds to support grantee capacity after an event, improving federal coordination by establishing an office at HUD devoted to disaster recovery and resilience, and reducing administrative burdens and interagency requirement conflicts.

“Families in Oregon and nationwide dealing with the challenges of increased wildfires, droughts and other natural disasters cannot afford to jump through bureaucratic hurdles while trying to recover,” Wyden said. “I’m proud to join my colleagues to introduce legislation that would cut unnecessary red tape and create a disaster recovery fund that would provide timely federal help to communities struck by natural disasters without waiting for Congress to act. Time is of the essence and I will work tirelessly to get this bill over the finish line.”