Congress Passes $19.1 Billion Disaster Relief Package with Millions for USVI

The House of Representatives on Monday overwhelmingly approved a $19.1 billion disaster relief package that includes millions for the territory. The measure already has been approved by the Senate and now goes to President Donald Trump, who is expected to sign it.

The bill passed with 354 yes votes and 58 votes against. All 58 votes against were Republicans, but 132 Republicans voted for the bill too, for strong bipartisan support.

“I am pleased that we have finally rejected the political stunts and grandstanding that have made it difficult to deliver much-needed relief to Americans struck by natural disasters. While it has taken far too long, this $19.1 billion bill includes a broad array of measures to help meet the urgent needs of disaster-stricken communities, like the Virgin Islands, from health care and nutritional assistance to social services and infrastructure repairs,” Delegate Stacey Plaskett (D-VI) said in a statement following the vote.

For the Virgin Islands the measure provides the following:
– $27.1 million in additional community development block grant-disaster recovery (CDBG-DR) funding.
– Requires FEMA to take into account pre-disaster conditions and other considerations when determining if a hurricane-damaged structure or facility in the Virgin Islands is repairable or must be replaced, thus promoting resiliency as the islands rebuild.
– Requires HUD to publish regulatory guidance governing CDBG-DR action plans for the mitigation funding appropriated under the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 within 90 days of enactment. This will allow the process for dispersal of the mitigation funding that was allocated to the Virgin Islands ($774.19 million) to begin.

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