Committee Approves Barletta Bill to Help Communities Rebuild after Disasters
WASHINGTON – Today the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved legislation introduced by Congressman Lou Barletta, PA-11, directing the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to expedite disaster assistance to local communities trying to recover from disasters by providing them the flexibility needed to best serve their residents. Barletta’s bill, H.R. 1214, the Disaster Simplified Assistance Value Enhancement Act (Disaster SAVE Act), temporarily increases FEMA’s simplified projects threshold for disaster assistance to $500,000. This increase will streamline the efficient and effective delivery of assistance for small disaster assistance recovery projects without reducing oversight.
Under current law, FEMA runs disaster assistance recovery projects under $130,100 similar to an insurance settlement. These projects include a review of the damage, a cost estimate, and issuance of a repair grant. The local government is then responsible for managing the grant on time and on budget. In exchange, they have greater flexibility in how they rebuild and can enhance a project with their own funds. This approach dramatically cuts administrative costs, rebuilds infrastructure faster, eliminates the risk of cost overruns for federal taxpayers, and gives local governments the flexibility to rebuild in a way that best meets their needs. Barletta’s bill would raise the project cap for this program from $130,100 to $500,000, since 98 percent of all public infrastructure repair and reconstruction projects following a disaster cost less than $500,000. This threshold increase would sunset on September 30, 2021.
“In one of the townships in my congressional district, FEMA reversed its prior approval and has been fighting for years with a local government over whether or not they should have paved a temporary access road that was built after a major flood,” Barletta said. “The cost of the gravel road was $230,000 dollars. The extra cost to pave it, which the community covered with its own funds, was about $50,000 dollars. The amount of money FEMA has wasted in salaries, administration, and legal fees trying to take back the $230,000 dollars likely exceeds the entire project cost. This is red tape out of control, and it does not serve the taxpayers well. My bill would prevent other local governments from facing this nightmare.”
Click here to watch Rep. Barletta speak on H.R. 1214.