Bipartisan Bustos/Davis bill to ensure small communities aren’t left behind by FEMA included in larger package
WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Cheri Bustos voted for a disaster assistance supplemental package to provide funding to places like Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico that are still recovering from recent hurricanes. Included in this supplemental is the entirety of the bipartisan Disaster Declaration Improvement Act which was authored by Reps. Bustos and Rodney Davis. Their bill permanently ensures that when a natural disaster strikes small communities, they aren’t unfairly denied recovery assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) because of arcane funding formulas.
“We’ve seen what happens when unfair FEMA formulas disadvantaged the communities of Pekin and East Peoria and I’m proud to have included the bipartisan bill Rep. Rodney Davis and I introduced to level the playing field for small communities recovering from natural disasters,” Rep. Cheri Bustos said. “With so much division and partisanship in Congress right now, I’m pleased to have worked across the aisle to advance this commonsense solution for hardworking families across the heartland who have been affected by natural disasters.
“This Christmas will be two years since storms caused $15 million in flood damage throughout Central and Southwestern Illinois. In the months following, Missouri would be granted public assistance, while Illinois would be denied,” said Davis. “I firmly believe the federal government should be there when states need help after a disaster and that’s why I’ve voted for every single disaster relief bill, but it’s time rural Illinois starts getting a fair shake as well. Year after year, my constituents have been unfairly punished by FEMA’s process. This is wrong. Taxpayers in my district pay into the Disaster Relief Fund and it should be there for them when they need it. By passing this bill into law, we will help level the playing field. I appreciate Congresswoman Cheri Bustos for helping make this a bipartisan effort.”
Bustos and Davis’ Disaster Declaration Improvement Act, which was included in today’s Disaster Supplemental Bill, requires FEMA to give greater weight and consideration to the localized impact of a disaster when determining the need for federal assistance. Additionally, the Disaster Declaration Improvement Act requires FEMA to take into consideration the cumulative impact of multiple storms in an area.
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.