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Newhouse’s FEMA Public Assistance Directive to Help Rural Communities Threatened by Wildfires Included in Appropriations Bill

July 18, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA) released the following statement after the House Committee on Appropriations approved the Fiscal Year 2018 Homeland Security Appropriations Act. The legislation provides for critical programs such as border and immigration enforcement, customs activities, protection against cyberterrorism, aviation security, natural disaster response, and border security. The legislation includes report language Rep. Newhouse worked on with Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL) to recognize the economic stress that can be placed on rural regions following a natural disaster such as a major wildfire. The report language included by Reps. Newhouse and Davis specifically recognizes that many rural communities located in states with large population centers are often disadvantaged by the disaster declaration and federal assistance program processes.

“In rural areas of states such as Washington, our communities face the threat of catastrophic wildfires, and FEMA’s public assistance program should treat rural communities fairly when administrating disaster relief,” said Rep. Newhouse. “The report language included in this legislation ensures FEMA will address the current imbalance in public assistance administered to states and localities.”

Background:

H.R. 1665, the Disaster Declaration Improvement Act, was passed unanimously by the House on May 5, 2017 and would require the Administrator of FEMA, in making recommendations to the President regarding a major disaster declaration, to give greater weight and consideration to severe local impact of disasters. Rep. Newhouse’s report language included the Fiscal Year 2018 Homeland Security Appropriations Act directs FEMA to brief the Appropriations Committee not later than 60 days after the date of enactment of H.R. 1665 on how FEMA would implement this directive if enacted in law.

FEMA’s Public Assistance Program provides assistance for emergency work and the repair or replacement of disaster-damaged facilities and communities as well as Hazard Mitigation Grant programs.