Long-awaited additional natural disaster aid is on its way to Louisiana after Congress on Thursday passed a short-term funding bill that includes $ 28.6 billion in nationwide disaster assistance .

The Louisiana Congressional delegation has repeatedly requested assistance for several declared natural disasters dating back to August 2020. More recently, the delegation requested assistance in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, which affected land on August 29.

All efforts failed until Thursday, when federal lawmakers approved a continuing resolution that will fund the federal government until December 3, 2021. The disaster relief program has been included in the bill, which will benefit in Louisiana.

The Senate passed the financing law before the approval of the House. If the measure failed, the government would have run out of money and would have closed its doors at midnight.

Both US senators from Louisiana supported the legislation.

“Louisiana will finally get the disaster relief we need,” said US Senator Bill Cassidy, R-La. “This is essential for our communities and our people to rebuild their lives. It took too long, especially for those in southwest Louisiana, but to achieve it is a huge victory for our state. “

U.S. Senator John Kennedy, R-La., Said the funding bill would send much-needed aid to Louisiana and expand the national flood insurance program without raising the nation’s debt limit, an issue key in the current budget negotiations.

“If you take a look at the storm damage in Louisiana over the past year, you know our people need disaster relief,” Kennedy said. “I am grateful that the Senate did the right thing by voting to send aid to our state, expand the flood insurance program Louisianans depend on, and keep government open.”

Kennedy slammed the political game in the Senate earlier this week when disaster relief was tied to a controversial debt ceiling provision, which was ultimately scrapped.

“Why are we fighting for this? ” He asked. “It’s stupid for us to have this fight when it’s so easy to solve.”

U.S. Representative Garrett Graves, a Republican whose district is in southwest Louisiana affected by Ida, announced his vote of support on social media.

“I voted yes for disaster aid,” Graves said. “We have people living in tents at our house without electricity while politicians argue [Washington] how many tens of trillions of debt is an acceptable amount to mortgage the future of our children and grandchildren. “

Republican Congressmen Steve Scalise and Mike Johnson were the only members of the Louisiana Congressional delegation to vote against the fundraising resolution, which was passed by the Senate, 65-35, and the House, 254-175 .

“As we continue this vital funding for education, health, housing and public safety programs, we are also providing $ 28.6 billion to help survivors of recent disasters and $ 6.3 billion to support evacuees from Afghanistan after the end of 20 years of war, ”said House Credit Committee Chair Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn.

Additional help was first requested for Hurricane Laura, a Category 4 storm that hit southwest Louisiana on August 27, 2020. In two months, Hurricanes Delta and Zeta hit the state , followed by a winter storm earlier this year and catastrophic flooding. in May. After Hurricane Ida last month, Tropical Storm Nicholas brought rains and flooding to many areas affected by Ida.

Recent meetings of the state government committee have underscored the extent of the remaining damage from the storm. Lawmakers in the southwestern region of the state said Monday residents of Cameron Parish were without power for more than three months after Hurricane Laura and damage to homes and businesses persists.

Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter told lawmakers the lack of additional help has been a big contributor to the problems Lake Charles has had since the storms started last year, including a 14% drop in registrations in schools. public schools, a 45% increase in drug overdose deaths, a 47% increase in unpaid property taxes and an 833% increase in dilapidated properties.

State Superintendent of Education Cade Brumley briefed lawmakers on Hurricane Ida recovery efforts on Tuesday, saying more than 70,000 students are still out of school due to storm damage to school buildings and communities in the southeast.

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Key words: News, Louisiana, State

Original author: William Patrick, La Place du Center

Original location: Congress passes fundraising bill, bringing Louisiana closer to additional disaster relief