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Congressman Garret Graves

Representing the 6th District of Louisiana

Graves–Richmond File Bill to Solve Onerous “Duplication of Benefits” Penalty

November 16, 2017
Press Release

Graves–Richmond File Bill to Solve Onerous “Duplication of Benefits” Penalty

The government is alleging that a loan duplicates a grant. There is absolutely nothing duplicative about a loan and a grant, and they should not be treated the same.”

 

Washington, DC – On Thursday, Congressman Garret Graves (R-South Louisiana) and Congressman Cedric Richmond (D-South Louisiana) along with other bipartisan co-sponsors, introduced legislation that would authorize the waiver of the "duplication of benefits" policy that has stymied disaster recovery in Louisiana and threatens the same in disaster areas like Texas, Florida, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

Federal disaster policy - the Stafford Act - prohibits the duplication of federal funds for the same purpose.  Agencies like Housing and Urban Development will deny recovery grants to survivors who qualified for Small Business Administration disaster loans because the agency wrongly treats a loan as a duplicative benefit - even if the survivor does not accept the loan.  The Graves-Richmond bill provides for the waiver of this policy upon the request of a state government.  The bill also allows flexibility to states and local governments to complete much needed flood mitigation projects by clarifying the use of federal funds to complete Army Corps of Engineers flood, drainage, coastal and hurricane projects.

The real disaster in federal disaster policy is the allegation that a loan is a grant. Survivors are constantly urged by FEMA and SBA officials to apply for loans immediately after the event -- maybe the most stressful moments in their lives -- without any expectation of possible grants. Then when grants are available, these survivors are denied. It is inappropriate to bait and switch like this. It is also ridiculously inefficient to delay resources that could otherwise be used for disaster recovery,” said Graves. 

"We have got to get people back on their feet, businesses reopened, and our community fully restored. We do that by giving states flexibility to take charge of their own disaster recovery. Our bill also looks at ways to further improve upon the federal dollars we have provided - several billion dollars for the August flood - and to ensure that the money is invested in true recovery priorities, flood protection and control projects, and drainage projects. We need to get the best return on these federal dollars.”

The bill was introduced today and cosponsored by: Cong. McCaul (TX), Plaskett (USVI), Gonzales-Colon (PR), Culberson (TX), Webster (FL), Babin (TX) Higgins (LA), Carter (TX), Crist (FL), and Weber (TX).

 

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