Monday evening, the House approved a $19.1 billion disaster aid package directed to help those affected by the hurricanes from last year and the continuous flooding in the Midwest from this year. The disaster relief bill was approved 354-58 — all who opposed it were Republicans because of the lack of funding for the southern border.
The Senate approved the same bill on May 23, and it now heads to the president’s desk for his signature. According to NPR, President Donald Trump has said he backed the measure, even though it did not include the border money that he urged Congress to add. He said he would continue pressing for that as part of separate legislation.
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue toured Interfaith Food Shuttle in Raleigh, North Carolina, this morning and commented on the recent passing of the disaster aid bill. He said, “Finally, eight months after Hurricane Florence we got a disaster bill that will help the producers — both crop and livestock producers — that lost a lot of things, some people lost everything. We look forward to implementing that in a fair way and will be taking applications.”
Perdue continued by saying that he looks forward to working with local governments to help identify where the damages and losses occurred.
Among other provisions, the supplemental disaster relief bill includes:
- Farm Disaster Assistance: $3.005 billion for farm disaster assistance administered through the Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program. This funding will benefit producers for necessary expenses related to losses of crops (including on-farm stored commodities, crops that were prevented from being planted in 2019), trees, bushes, vines, milk and harvested adulterated wine grapes caused by natural disasters in 2018 and 2019.
- Emergency Forest Restoration Program: $480 million for non-industrial timber restoration.
- Emergency Watershed Protection Program: $435 million for rural watershed recovery.
- Emergency Conservation Program: $558 million for farmers and ranchers to rehabilitate farmland damaged by natural disasters.
- Puerto Rico Nutrition Assistance: $600 million for the Nutrition Assistance for Puerto Rico program.
- Community Facilities Grant Program: $150 million for the Rural Development Community Facilities Grant Program, which funds the development of essential community facilities in rural areas.