Dem disaster bill ups Marianas aid

Jan 7, 2019

The new Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, Nita Lowey of New York, released the Democratic version of a disaster relief bill on Friday afternoon with increased funding for the Marianas, as I had requested. Her predecessor, Rodney Frelinghuysen, had included Mangkhut and Yutu relief in the Republican bill passed on December 21, and we have been building on that good beginning ever since. There is still room for improvement and I will continue working with my Democratic colleagues to get as much help for the Marianas as possible.

Highlights of the Democratic bill:

  • An increase to $1.2 billion for community development block grants, available to the Marianas as one of the areas most impacted by a disaster in 2018. The money can be used for long-term recovery efforts, restoration of infrastructure and housing, economic revitalization, or as a local match for other federal grants.
  • An increase to $10.2 million for the Marianas Nutrition Assistance Program.
  • An increase to $600 million for grants from the Economic Development Administration for relief, recovery, and restoration from typhoons Mangkhut and Yutu and other natural disasters.
  • New funding of $150 million for the Rural Community Facilities Program for 2018 natural disasters to provide health care, education, public safety, and public services.
  • An increase to $150 million commercial fishery failures related to Mangkhut, Yutu, or other disasters.
  • An increase to $15 million to the Legal Services Corporation to aid local branches, like Micronesian Legal Services, that helped typhoon survivors.
  • New funding of $750 million for the Army Corps of Engineers for projects to protect shorelines and reduce storm damage in the Marianas and other impacted areas without a local match requirement.
  • New funding for sewer and water infrastructure impacted by Typhoon Yutu and other natural disasters with a specific set-aside of $10.4 million for the Marianas.
  • New funding of $50 million for the dislocated workers program, in which the Marianas already participates.
  • New funding of $30 million for behavioral health treatment and crisis counseling.
  • New funding of $250 million for the Social Services Block Grant program for areas impacted by Mangkhut, Yutu, and other natural disasters to be used renovating and repairing health care, childcare, and other facilities.
  • An increase to $60 million for the Head Start programs in affected areas.
  • An increase to $165 million for recovery of schools.
  • A new $20 million grant for Marianas Medicaid with no local match required.
  • A new $15.5 million for technical assistance related to electrical grids.

 

Also still remaining from the original bill are:

  • $56 million for solid waste for the Marianas, enough for new sanitary landfills on Rota and Tinian, and to open a new cell at the existing Marpi landfill on Saipan.
  • $2 million for financial management technical assistance for the Marianas.
  • A $20 million territorial set-aside for highway repairs.

 

In addition, the Democratic bill includes this important component of my original request to appropriators: that FEMA be authorized to use its public assistance grants to the Marianas to replace or repair facilities to industry standards without regard to the pre-disaster condition of the facility.