After months of political battles, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a $19 billion disaster relief bill (H.R. 2157) in May of 2019, providing aid to areas hit by hurricanes, flooding, tornadoes, wildfires, and other natural disasters.
The disaster relief bill also includes a 4-month extension to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), finally providing some extended security to the program, which has seen 12 short-term extensions since its original expiration date in September 2017.
The bill passed the House with a vote of 354-58. The Senate previously passed the bill on May 23. It now goes to the White House. President Donald Trump has indicated he will sign the bill.
The $19 billion will fund a number of federal programs that provide aid and rebuilding assistance to local communities, farmers, service members and others nationwide.
Breaking down the $19 billion, $900 million has been allocated for aid in Puerto Rico, where Cat-5 Hurricane Maria devastated the U.S. territory in 2017, killing an estimated 3,057 people. The bill also will aid flood victims in the Midwest, particularly farmers who are being stifled by months of relentless inclement weather and fallout from the President’s recent trade tariffs.
Wildfire victims and programs in California will see long-awaited relief, too. The bill contains $2.4 billion for community development block grants to address disasters that have occurred since 2017; $3 billion for the Agriculture Department to cover producers’ losses from those disasters; and $720 million for the Forest Service to repay money spent fighting last year’s wildfires.