Congress Switches Gears on Proposed FEMA Cuts as Harvey Continues

As Texas continues to attempt managing the destruction from Hurricane Harvey, Congress is due to consider an appropriations package that, as is, would rescind nearly $876 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Disaster Relief Fund.

But with the proposal written prior to Hurricane Harvey, lawmakers are now expected to pivot funding directives to match the needs of the programs aiding recovery efforts.

FEMA employees are seen at the agency's Washington, D.C. headquarters shortly before a visit from President Donald Trump on Aug. 4, 2017. (Credit: Michael Reynolds/ Pool/Getty Images)

FEMA employees are seen at the agency’s Washington, D.C. headquarters shortly before a visit from President Trump on Aug. 4, 2017. (Credit: Michael Reynolds/ Pool/Getty Images)

The spending cuts in the initial package were intended help cover costs of administration priorities in the homeland security bill, which includes President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall.

Trump assured Texans that areas affected by Hurricane Harvey would see swift action from the government.

“You’re going to see very rapid action from Congress — certainly from the President,” Trump said on Tuesday.

Insistent that Texas would get the funding it needed for recovery, Trump added that he thought it would come from outside the larger budget package.

GOP leaders are working on sending additional funds through a supplemental spending bill, and if spending legislation is passed in September, the disaster relief fund will get additional money, according to a GOP aide.

Federal Emergency Management Agency director Brock Long predicted on Saturday that the agency will be in Texas “for years” following the devastation from Hurricane Harvey.

Harvey made landfall Friday night and has since broken the US record for rainfall from a single storm, CNN senior meteorologist Dave Hennen said — with some areas of the state seeing almost 52 inches of rain.

“It is simply too early at this point to determine whether FEMA may need supplemental funding. The FEMA Disaster Relief Fund is funded, as planned, to meet disaster needs this fiscal year. The committee will proceed accordingly should the need arise for supplemental funding after damage and recovery assessments can be made,” Chris Gallegos, the Republican spokesperson for the Senate Appropriations Committee, told CNN earlier this week.

Friday, Trump announced a major disaster declaration, which directed federal aid to affected areas after Thomas Bossert, Trump’s homeland security adviser, said Friday that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott requested the disaster declaration earlier Friday.