ICYMI: Diaz-Balart Supports Additional Disaster Assistance to Support Florida, Texas, Puerto Rico, U.S.V.I, California in Wake of Natural Disasters
WASHINGTON – Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25), Chairman of the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Subcommittee, today spoke in support of H.R. 4667, Supplemental Disaster Assistance in the wake of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, and the 2017 wildfires, ahead of its passage.
Click on the image to watch his remarks, or read below as prepared for delivery.
“This bill provides much needed relief and resources to Texas, Florida, the U.S. Virgin Islands, California, and Puerto Rico. I’ve heard a lot in this debate, but let’s be clear: the bill treats the folks in Florida, Texas, Puerto Rico, The U.S. Virgin Islands, and California exactly the same.
“Significant portions of my district were hit hard by Hurricane Irma. Communities are still working tirelessly to get back on their feet. Communities like Everglades City, Chokoloskee, Plantation Island, Immokalee and Montura Ranch. This bill help meet our Federal obligations to ensure the full, appropriate Federal commitment is there for long-term recovery
“For highways, this bill funds all repairs from the 2017 storms and clears the backlog from prior years.
“On the housing side, this bill provides $26.1 billion for Community Development Block Grants.
“Of that, $13.6 billion is provided to meet all remaining unmet housing, business, and infrastructure needs for the three hurricanes, including the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto. The remaining, $12.5 billion is provided for mitigation grants. These grants provide resources to our communities so they can rebuild.
“Additionally, I am pleased with the $3.8 billion allocated for the Department of Agriculture. This will go a long way towards helping our farmers and Florida’s agriculture industry, including Florida’s iconic citrus industry.
“I strongly urge a yes vote on this important disaster supplemental. I thank Chairman Frelinghuysen for his leadership and courage to bring forward to bring forward a good bill that helps folks across our country and the islands, and treats everyone equally, equitably, and fairly.”
As Chairman of the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Subcommittee, Diaz-Balart was able to secure the following for this supplemental funding:
- Federal Aviation Administration (FAA): Provides FAA with a total of $114.6 million for facilities damaged by hurricanes in 2017, and for operational expenses.
- Federal Highway Administration-Emergency Relief Program: $1.37 billion to address infrastructure damage from the 2017 hurricane season.
- Federal Transit Administration-Public Transportation Emergency Relief Program: Provides $269 million for transit systems affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, to restore critical transit assets such as buses and shelters, ferry terminals, and rail systems stations.
- Community Development Block Grants-Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR): Provides $26.1 billion for CDBG-DR to meet the full commitment in this program to address unmet housing, business and infrastructure needs for communities devastated by disasters in 2017, including Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. $12.5 billion is allocated to address mitigation projects to help communities protect against future natural disasters, and to protect the taxpayer from recurring costs of rebuilding after storms.
Also included in the legislation are the following items that will benefit Floridians and Americans across the country and in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands that are still recovering from the 2017 Hurricane Season and recent wildfires in California:
- $2.6 billion for agriculture assistance to support Florida’s agriculture industry, including the citrus industry that has an estimated $760 million in damages alone.
- $2.9 billion to assist schools in Florida and elsewhere that accepted students from Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria.
- $12.1 billion for repairs to existing Army Corps of Engineers projects that were damaged during the storm, including those projects in Everglades National Park.
- $1.66 billion to support the Small Business Administration’s disaster loan program, allowing the agency to provide up to $12.2 billion in disaster loans.
- $616 million for repairs, cleanup, and recovery at Fish and Wildlife, National Parks, US Geological Service, EPA, and Forest Service, including Everglades National Park.