The Administration send its third request for a post-disaster supplemental appropriation last Friday. Congress has already passed $35.8 billion for the hurricanes and flooding events plus $16 billion in debt forgiveness for the NFIP. This latest request is for $44 billion. Given the fact that this won’t be the last request for the slew of disasters afflicting coastal and inland America, 2017 ought to be a record-setting year for disasters. The bulk of the funding is for damages caused by Hurricanes Harvey & Irma, with funds for public assistance only in the request for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The Administration says it wants to “work closely with Puerto Rico to develop a plan for rebuilding,” and will require that before it sends a request for long-term recovery funding. For the widespread California wildfires, the Administration is requested tax relief in the form of an expanded casualty loss deduction and other measures. Congress has already passed similar tax relief for victims of Harvey, Irma and Maria (PL 115-63)
In addition to funding for FEMA and the Small Business Administration, the Corps would get $14.5 million cost-shared “Construction” funds and $162 million in non-cost-shared “FCCE” (emergency) funds “to repair to pre-storm condition non-Federal [sic] projects” eligible for assistance under POL 84-99. [We take that to be a mistake, since it should say “Federal]. There is also $322 million for port and navigation projects, to be paid for through the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund.
I want to focus your attention to another section of the request which proposes a new HUD $12 billion Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery competitive grant program. It would be open to States and Territories that had a disaster in the last 4 years. Applicants would have to present “cost-effective solutions to reducing future disaster risk and lowering the potential cost of future disaster recovery.” The program will incentivize projects that will bring non-Federal (presumably private and non-profit) resources “to expedite delivery of the projects.” Finally, “eligible projects may include projects typically undertaken by and with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.” I see this as an opportunity for some of the smaller environmental restoration and flood control projects on the coast.
Start your research now but don’t go full-bore on proposals until Congress adopts the program and HUD issues rules for the competition. The Corps has several “Continuing Authorities Programs” pus “Planning Assistance to States” and a few others that can be used to plan and implement projects that are likely to be competitive for this grant program.
The Senate Armed Services Committee has favorably reported out R.D. James’ nomination to be Assistant Secretary of the Army. It next goes to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.
As you know, we track dozens of Federal bills affecting coastal communities. To be added later today to our list available on WaterLog, are –
HR 4177: The Prepare Act
S 2093 Coastal Implementation Act
I hope you have a very enjoyable and safe Thanksgiving Holiday!!