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Funds for Disaster Aid Running Low

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has halted rebuilding projects from disasters dating to Hurricane Katrina and has opted to pay for only the “immediate needs” of disaster-wrecked communities as funding for the agency dries up.

FEMA has less than $800 million left in its account to address the damage done by Hurricane Irene, not to mention those Hurricane Katrina projects that are still under construction. The agency acknowledged recently that it could be short almost $5 billion for the upcoming budget year, not including estimated costs for cleaning up after Irene.

Needless to say, lawmakers from states that are relying on the agency for funding — including those from tornado-torn Missouri and Alabama — are furious. –BF

Associated Press in the East Oregonian:

“Going into September being the peak part of hurricane season, and with Irene, we didn’t want to get to the point where we would not have the funds to continue to support the previous impacted survivors as well as respond to the next disaster,” FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate told reporters at the White House on Monday.

Republicans controlling the House and the Democratic-controlled Senate may be headed toward a battle over whether to cut spending elsewhere in the budget to pay for tornado and hurricane aid.

A top leader in the tea party-driven House says that chamber will find those offsetting spending cuts. The Senate, however, is likely to take advantage of a little-noticed provision in the recently passed debt limit and budget deal that permits Congress to pass several billion dollars in additional FEMA disaster aid without budget cuts elsewhere.

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