House Passes Second Hurricane and Wildfire Disaster Package

On Thursday, the House approved another aid package of $36.5 billion, which is to supply funding for hurricane and wildfire disaster relief. The package includes $18.7 billion which are to be appropriated to FEMA’s disaster relief fund.

The package is expected to help the areas in California affected by wildfires, as well as the government of Puerto Rico which is struggling with financial issues as a result of Hurricane Maria. The situation on the island remains almost the same, with the recovery taking a very long time.

The package, which is yet to be considered in the Senate, is the largest disaster package since Hurricane Sandy from five years ago, and the second such package this year. Lawmakers, however, point out that more than the already $50 million approved will be required.

Some states have complained their needs have not been met, but Rodney Frelinghuysen, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee asserts “ this is a good step in the right direction.”

Virgin Islands’ Governor Kenneth E. Mapp also asked congressional leaders for $5.5 billion to aid the islands’ recovery from Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

“We are at the U.S. government’s mercy”, Mapp said, while explaining that the islands are dealing with destroyed hospitals and schools, and a damaged power grid, among else. He added that a great number of homes were destroyed by the hurricanes, and most of the aid would be directed toward providing homes for the people of the Virgin Islands.

These requests for aid are already putting a strain on the federal government. Another $82 billion were added to the deficit for the 2017 fiscal year compared to last year. Congress is expected to continue approving disaster relief packages in the following months, reports The Hill.

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