The Biden administration is seeking an extra $4 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s disaster relief fund after an unrelenting spate of recent natural calamities.
The new funding would be on top of $12 billion the White House initially sought for FEMA in its Aug. 10 supplemental spending request. It would bring the total to $16 billion for the disaster management agency and $44 billion overall for the emergency funding package, which also includes money for Ukraine and southern border needs.
An Office of Management and Budget spokesperson said the extra funding was necessary given the “intensity of disaster activity around the nation” — the latest including Hurricane Idalia and wildfires in Louisiana, on top of the devastation in Maui, Hawaii, flooding in Vermont and more. President Joe Biden on Thursday declared major disasters in Florida and South Carolina as a result of Idalia, freeing up immediate cash.
Earlier this week, FEMA chief Deanne Criswell said the disaster relief fund had dwindled to $3.4 billion and the agency had begun to put on hold long-planned projects to help rebuilding efforts after prior disasters.
Also on Thursday, the White House budget office submitted a list of requests for the stopgap funding measure that lawmakers will need to consider to avoid a partial government shutdown in October.
Among those “anomalies” is language typically added to continuing resolutions freeing up the regular annual funding for disaster relief up front. In this case, that would be $20 billion.
The White House wants lawmakers to attach the supplemental to the stopgap funding, which is expected to run into early December.
But numerous GOP lawmakers want to separate the disaster relief funding from the rest of the package, calling into question other parts of the Biden emergency funds request. And conservative House Republicans don’t want to pass even a short-term funding resolution without significant policy concessions.