Bipartisan legislation protects disaster victims

Bipartisan legislation introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives today would prevent the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) from taking back disaster assistance funds that it mistakenly awarded to victims who applied for assistance in good faith and utilized that money to help rebuild their lives.

If signed into law, the Preventing Disaster Revictimization Act (bill text), will require FEMA to waive the debt of disaster relief recipients in cases where the agency later determined it mistakenly granted assistance, but no fraud was committed. Under current law, FEMA can come back weeks, months, or even years later to seek repayment of funds it awarded victims, even when the agency is at fault for making the error and the funds were appropriately used in the wake of a disaster.

The Preventing Disaster Revictimization Act was introduced by U.S. Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO), who is Ranking Member of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, U.S. Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-CA), U.S. Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA), U.S. Rep. Jenniffer González-Colón (R-PR), U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA), U.S. Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA), and U.S. Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-CA).

LaMalfa said, “It has been more than two years since the Camp Fire burned through Paradise, Magalia, Concow and other ridge areas. Survivors are returning to the Ridge, they are rebuilding and resuming their lives. FEMA individual assistance provided over the past two years is not comparable to claims from the PG&E wildfire settlement. Our constituents are not saving their aid in a bank account to pay back the government. It has been spent rebuilding and restoring what they have lost.”

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