Davis Bill to Bring Fairness to Disaster Declarations Passes Committee
U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) today announced his bill to bring fairness to the disaster declaration process passed unanimously during a Transportation and Infrastructure Committee markup. Next step will be consideration by the full House.
H.R. 1665, Disaster Declaration Improvement Act, introduced by Davis and U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.), requires Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to give greater weight and consideration to the localized impact of a disaster when determining the need for federal assistance. Additionally, this bill requires FEMA to take into consideration the cumulative impact of multiple storms in an area. H.R. 1665 is similar to the bill passed by the House last Congress but was never considered by the Senate.
“Eighteen million dollars is the magic number Illinois has to reach to receive any federal public assistance when a disaster occurs,” said Davis. “That amount is nearly double that of any of our neighboring states. Time and time again our rural communities have been denied and unfairly punished by this formula. Illinois taxpayers pay into the Disaster Relief Fund and it should be there when they need it. H.R. 1665 simply requires FEMA to put more weight on the localized impact of a disaster, rather than just an arbitrary, per-capita formula, when considering the need for assistance.”
Video of the markup of H.R. 1665 can be found here.
Currently, FEMA uses a per-capita formula to determine the need for public assistance. They multiply the state’s population with $1.39 then use this number as a threshold for determining the state’s need for public assistance. Illinois compared to surrounding states:
Illinois $18 million
Indiana $9.1 million
Missouri $8.4 million
Wisconsin $8 million
Kentucky $6.1 million
Iowa $4.3 million
FEMA can also take into account damage done in a specific county but whether they take this into account and how much this will impact their decision is highly subjective. The formula used to determine this is $3.50 per capita in infrastructure damage in a county.
Illinois sustained $15 million in flood damage in 2015/2016. Governor Rauner requested public assistance for 16 counties. In one county, damages were assessed at $4 million, which was $486.00 per capita for that county. Illinois was still denied public assistance.
Davis has been working to bring fairness within in the disaster declaration process since his first term. Related: