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Pelosi Politicizes Hurricane Recovery Aid

U.S. Congressman Garret Graves issued the following statement after the U.S House of Representatives leadership released a government funding bill, with an undefined amount of Hurricane Ida recovery funding included, provided 45 minutes to review the legislation, then withdrew and replaced the bill with a new version (without notice).

"I appreciate President Biden coming down to view the incredible impacts of Hurricane Ida on our state. The quick request for hurricane recovery funding from the White House is indicative of the extraordinary destruction caused by this powerful storm. The hurricane recovery bill includes a number of priorities we pushed, including funding for the Morganza to the Gulf Hurricane Protection project, funding for the Upper Barataria levee, other flood control and resilience priorities, disaster funding for our fishing community, a program to remove obstacles in our waterways, Hurricane Ida recovery funds to rebuild homes, and other recovery priorities. However, the bill lacks some key provisions, including the delay of FEMA National Flood Insurance Program rate surges and thinly spreads assistance for victims of Hurricanes Laura, Delta and Zeta to all 50 states."

At the last minute, Speaker Pelosi added a poison pill to the bill that allows the Biden Administration to increase the national debt from the current $28,700,000,000,000 ($28.7 trillion) without limit. The current debt is equivalent to $87,000 for every man, woman and child. Previously, their request would have increased the national debt to $45,000,000,000,000 ($45 trillion) by 2031, over $350,000 per taxpayer.

Graves attempted to add several amendments that were blocked by Democrat procedural maneuvers.

Click HERE to watch Graves' testimony this morning where he asked the U.S House Rules Committee to insert the following amendments to the government funding bill:

  • Amendment 7: Prohibits the use of funds to implement Risk Rating 2.0 flood insurance spikes for one year and requires the FEMA Administrator to carry out certain transparency actions and economic impact analysis.
  • Amendment 8: Requires the SBA Administrator and the IRS Commissioner to provide a report to Congress on backlogs and delays in getting economic injury loans to small businesses (EIDL Program).
  • Amendment 9: Provides $2.5 billion to the Economic Development Administration for Sec. 209 assistance for the 2020 and 2021 hurricanes. This would provide funding to rebuild homes and other needs.
  • Amendment 10: Prohibits the Department of Housing and Urban Development from enforcing different base flood elevation requirements than those that are enforced by FEMA through the National Flood Insurance Program.
  • Amendment 12: Prohibits the SBA Administrator for carrying out enforcement actions against a duplication of benefits victim if the recipient is eligible for CDBG-DR funds and duplication of benefits relief, but has not yet received their grant.
  • Amendment 13: Prohibits funds for the use of enforcing new criteria for individual grant recipients for disaster assistance that were otherwise not applicable to initial grant recipients.
  • Amendment 14: Authorizes the Secretary of Agriculture to assist in removing and disposing of debris and sediment resulting from a natural disaster.
  • Amendment 15: Sets aside $7 million for marine debris removal in areas impacted by a major disaster in 2020 or 2021.

The U.S. House voted on the legislation this evening and Graves opposed the bill with the poison pill, his amendments being blocked from consideration and the projected $45 trillion debt increase.

More below on the recent supplemental request:

On September 7, 2021, President Biden announced the long-awaited emergency supplemental recovery funding request for Hurricanes Laura and Delta as Louisiana is recovering from Hurricane Ida's landfall. The supplemental funds are long-overdue for Hurricanes Delta, Laura and Zeta, and we are expressed our concern about a critical missed opportunity to specifically address timely recovery needs stemming from Hurricane Ida.

Graves said the included provisions fall short on delivering long-term structural changes and without changes to the federal government bureaucracies, Hurricane Ida survivors will be further victimized.

Graves asked the president to revisit the supplemental request and make a number of structural changes and insert additional items to build a stronger Louisiana. The areas Graves wants the president to focus on include: Hurricane Ida Disaster Assistance, Assistance to rebuild homes, economic recovery funding, Resilience, Ports and Waterways, and aid for our fishing/seafood sector.

Without these core changes, we will spend more taxpayer dollars after the fact rather than investing before the storm.

With the likelihood of the White House and Congress waiting to act on Hurricane Ida assistance, compounded by the impossibly time-consuming HUD approval process, disaster victims won't reasonably expect to see recovery assistance until January 2023. Further preventing recovery are the breathtaking costs and delays of ad hoc rules invented by bureaucrats who sit comfortably behind a desk while victims wait a year or more for a roof.

On National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP):

Graves and Congressman Bill Pascrell have been joined by dozens of members of Congress in an effort to block efforts by FEMA to implement substantial flood insurance rate hikes for millions of Americans. The new insurance premium calculation methodology, Risk Rating 2.0, is slated to begin on October 1, 2021 (new home purchases), with a second phase going into effect in April of next year (existing homes/policies).

Graves, Pascrell and others are urging Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy to include the groups' amendment to put a moratorium on the implementation of the flood rate hikes. To read the group letter to Pelosi and McCarthy, click here.

Massive rate changes should be subject to additional scrutiny and review by Members of Congress in a long-term reauthorization, not arbitrary FEMA deadlines. A delay in implementing Risk Rating 2.0 is needed to allow Congress time to work on a comprehensive long-term reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program.

Graves and Whip Steve Scalise also recently asked FEMA to delay the implementation of the new NFIP rate-setting program. On May 11, 2021, Graves previously asked for the delay.