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Graves's Legislation to Fix Duplication of Benefits Clears House a Second Time

U.S. Congressman Garret Graves's legislation to fix the flawed ‘duplication of benefits' policy passed in the U.S. House of Representatives today, along with a number of other top priorities for Louisianans addressed in HR. 4, "The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018." The bipartisan package to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration includes the Disaster Recovery Reform Act (DRRA), legislation that provides extensive improvements to FEMA's disaster response and recovery programs to help communities better prepare for, respond to, recover from and mitigate against disasters of all kinds.

"This bill truly captures and takes action on the frontline feedback and lessons learned from our 2016 flood, recent hurricanes and other disasters across the country," said Graves. "Making changes to policies that don't work so that the nation is better positioned before the next disaster strikes is the way Congress is supposed to work."

HR. 4 has substantial momentum as it heads to the Senate after overwhelming passage in the House – there were only 13 "no" votes today. Its advancement marks the second time that Graves's language to fix duplications of benefits passed in the House of Representatives, demonstrating the strong support for that and other policies contained in the bill.

The legislation also contains a handful of new Graves policies specifically designed to address recovery impediments in South Louisiana and for which he has long advocated, including:

  • A Graves-Richmond arbitration amendment to create a fair and unbiased process for entities to settle claim disputes with FEMA through an independent board experienced with settling such disagreements. FEMA should not be able to determine whether its own denials are justified.
  • A Graves-Richmond housing amendment allows state and local governments to provide post-disaster, temporary housing at a cost-savings compared to FEMA housing. Graves: "We're all aware of the out-of-control costs associated with MHUs and have heard story after story of people having to wait months on FEMA to deliver and install them. It just doesn't make any sense when in many cases you can go to an RV lot in town and get the same or a better trailer for less money." Current law prohibits FEMA from reimbursing local governments for the cost of providing a housing solution for those who are displaced after a disaster, which caused significant headache for the Livingston Parish Sheriff's Department and others after the 2016 flood.
  • A Graves-Richmond amendment to fix a flawed interpretation of current law that has resulted in tens of millions in additional costs to flooded schools, delaying their ability to come back online, teach our students and perform their fundamental role in communities. The Graves amendment imposed a one-penalty-per-facility limit as Congress intended.

HR. 4 maintains other Graves provisions already in DRRA: a solution to fix and prevent future situations like the "I-12 Wall," allowing FEMA assistance for houses of worship, providing for localized management of temporary housing and MHUs and others.

Click below a short video of Graves talking about the bill:

The five-year FAA reauthorization provides long-term stability for the Nation's aviation community, continues investment in airports across the country, improves America's competitiveness in the global aviation sector, strengthens passenger protections, and ensures the safety of the system for the traveling public.