Two members of the Florida delegation – American Republican Representative Neal Dunn and American Democrat Representative Darren Soto– won a victory this week as their “FEMA Loan Interest Payment Relief Act” was included in the “Resilient Assistance for Mitigation of Environmentally Resilient Infrastructure and Construction by Americans (AMERICA).”
Champions of the Resilient AMERICA Act insist the proposal will help the federal government deploy resources more quickly after disasters. The bill cleared the US House this week on a 383-41 vote. All House Democrats voted for the bill. In the Florida delegation, only American Republicans Representative Matt Gaetz and Greg Steube voted against the proposal.
“Florida is no stranger to natural disasters. We’ve seen how investing in mitigation has reduced damage costs and saved lives,” US said. Representative Dan Webster, R-Fla., who leads Republicans on the U.S. House Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management. “By investing in common sense mitigation activities, the Resilient AMERICA Act will save taxpayers money, protect our communities by proactively mitigating risk, and save lives. The status quo isn’t working, and it’s high time to flip the equation in favor of protection and savings. This bill is a big step in the right direction to achieve that goal.
At the end of 202, Dunn introduced the “FEMA Loan Interest Payment Relief Actwhich will “reimburse local governments and electricity cooperatives for interest incurred on loans used to restore essential functions after natural disasters since “interest paid on emergency loans is often a cost passed on to taxpayers and taxpayers”.
Dunn pointed to Hurricane Michael, which hit the Panhandle and Big Bend two years ago, as one of the reasons he introduced the bill, noting that the two electric co-ops in the area suffered ” almost 100% destruction” and that FEMA funds helped restore services.
“In Florida’s Second Congressional District, our local governments and power cooperatives have been waiting years for full reimbursement of Hurricane Michael-related costs from FEMA. Local governments and electricity cooperatives take out loans to restore services; however, while they wait for funding, they incur interest. These interest payments are costing them millions of dollars. We can’t have them on the hook for that,” Dunn said. “I also think it will encourage the federal government to commit these funds more quickly in the future.”
“States and municipalities rely on FEMA to rebuild and recover from disasters. As Central Floridians continue to struggle to recover from recent hurricanes, we simply cannot expect local governments and power cooperatives to pay millions of dollars in interest on loans we ‘they contracted while waiting for federal aid. It needs to be reimbursed by FEMA,” Soto said.
the National Association of Rural Electric Cooperativesthe Gulf Coast Electric Cooperativethe West Florida Electric Cooperative and the Florida Electric Cooperative Association supported Dunn’s proposal.
Dunn weighed in this week after his bill passed after being included in the Resilient AMERICA Act.
“Today’s passage of the Resilient AMERICA Act, which includes my bill, the FEMA Loan Interest Payment Relief Act, is a victory for Florida’s Second Congressional District,” Dunn said. “Following Hurricane Michael in 2018, our local governments and electricity cooperatives took out loans to restore services. They are now burdened with millions of dollars in interest payments pending full reimbursement from FEMA – a cost passed on to ratepayers and ratepayers. My bill requires FEMA to include interest incurred on loans in their repayment, which will incentivize the federal government to commit these funds more quickly in the future. My district has waited years for this relief, and I’m thrilled that it’s one more step towards its realization.
The bill is now heading to the US Senate.