In the wake of the devastating Maui fires and the Category 3 Hurricane Idalia’s landfall in Florida’s Big Bend region, Senators Rick Scott and Marco Rubio have introduced the Federal Disaster Responsibility Act in the U.S. Senate. The bill is aimed at providing immediate assistance to American families facing emergencies following natural disasters. It has garnered bipartisan support, with Congresswoman Kat Cammack leading companion legislation in the House of Representatives.
Senator Scott, who unveiled the bill’s details last week following the havoc wreaked by Hurricane Idalia, emphasizes the importance of ensuring that American families do not have to wait or be used as bargaining chips in Washington’s political games when disaster strikes. He asserts that disaster relief should not be contingent on aid for foreign causes.
Over the weekend, Senator Scott met with President Biden and urged him to support the passage of the Federal Disaster Responsibility Act. In a letter addressed to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senator Scott made it clear that disaster relief funds should not be subjected to political maneuvering.
“When disaster strikes, families can’t be left wondering whether the federal government is going to show up or if they’ll be strung along while Washington uses them as a bargaining chip in a massive spending bill,” Senator Scott stated. “One Democrat has even come out and proactively said that she would block this desperately needed disaster aid. That’s the type of gross politics being played in Washington, and Floridians are sick and tired of it.”
Senator Rubio echoed these sentiments, emphasizing that it is one of the most basic functions of the U.S. Government to help Americans when disasters occur. He criticized the Biden Administration for intentionally withholding a budget request for the Disaster Relief Fund to leverage it for unrelated spending, calling for accountability.
Representative Kat Cammack, whose district was heavily impacted by Hurricane Idalia, expressed her commitment to ensuring federal resources are available to everyone affected. She emphasized the need to shore up the FEMA Disaster Relief Fund, which currently lacks the necessary funds to support recovery efforts.
Senator Scott’s Federal Disaster Responsibility Act encompasses several critical provisions, including:
1. Fully Funding FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund: The bill allocates at least $16.5 billion to meet the immediate needs of FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund. This funding will ensure that the federal government can rapidly deploy emergency resources to communities and individuals affected by natural disasters, surpassing the Biden administration’s recent estimates for disaster response funding.
2. Bipartisan Block Grant Assistance Act: This provision ensures the final passage of the bipartisan Block Grant Assistance Act, granting authority to the U.S. Department of Agriculture to issue block grants to agriculture producers affected by natural disasters in 2022. It extends support to Florida’s citrus growers, Georgia’s peach growers, and all U.S. agriculture producers grappling with disaster-related losses.
3. Expanded Hurricane Tax Relief Act: The bill includes an expanded version of the Hurricane Tax Relief Act, offering disaster-loss tax relief to impacted families. This relief applies nationwide and includes taxpayers in states like Hawaii, California, Illinois, and Florida. The act modifies the deduction for personal casualty losses in hurricane disaster areas, waiving the requirements for impacted taxpayers to itemize deductions and allowing losses that exceed 10% of adjusted gross income to be eligible.
4. Rebuilding Military Installations: The legislation commits necessary funds and resources to Florida’s military installations, enabling them to fully rebuild and recover from hurricane damage.
This bill will ensure that American families receive the assistance they need when it matters most.