Senate’s Hurricane Sandy relief plan 

Posted: 10:28 pm Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

By Jamie Dupree

Senate Democrats on Wednesday unveiled the details of a $60.4 billion disaster aid plan to help deal with the damage from Hurricane Sandy.  The plan basically tracks what was proposed late last week by the White House and the Obama Administration.

Even as famous bands like the Rolling Stones took the stage at Madison Square Garden in New York to raise money for Sandy relief, the future of this aid plan in the Congress was unclear, both because of the late date this year and the general uncertainties with regards to the fiscal cliff.

Democrats want action before the end of the year, but Republicans – worried by the idea of adding $55 billion more to the deficit – weren’t sure what they would do with the plan before the Christmas break.

Here is the summary of the plan as provided by the Senate Appropriations Committee:

 

SUMMARY: FISCAL YEAR 2013 DISASTER ASSISTANCE SUPPLEMENTAL Overview

 

The Disaster Assistance Supplemental provides $60.4 billion in discretionary funding. The emergency spending contained in this bill is equal to the President’s request, and contains no earmarks. A summary of the legislation is provided below.

 

AGRICULTURE CHAPTER:

 

Department of Agriculture: $224 million

 

Emergency Conservation: $25.090 million

The Emergency Conservation Program provides emergency funding and technical assistance for farmers and ranchers to rehabilitate farmland damaged by natural disasters and for carrying out emergency water conservation measures.

 

Emergency Forest Restoration: $58.855 million

The Emergency Forest Restoration Program provides funding to carry out emergency measures to restore nonindustrial private forest land damaged by a natural disaster.

 

Emergency Watershed Protection: $125.055 million

The Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) program provides financial and technical assistance to undertake emergency measures to safeguard lives and property from floods, drought, and the products of erosion on any watershed whenever fire, flood or any other natural occurrence is causing or has caused a sudden impairment of the watershed.

 

Emergency Food Assistance: $15 million

The Emergency Food Assistance Program provides USDA commodities to food banks throughout the country in order to provide nutrition assistance to low-income individuals and communities in need.

 

COMMERCE, JUSTICE, SCIENCE CHAPTER: $513 million

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA): $482 million

 $57 million for NOAA to locate, map, identify, track and clean up marine debris.

 $63 million to repair and improve hurricane and severe weather forecasting capabilities.

 $15 million to repair NOAA facilities and ocean observing and coastal monitoring equipment damaged by Hurricane Sandy.

 $150 million for fishery disasters declared by the Secretary of Commerce in 2012.

 $197 million to evaluate, stabilize, restore, and protect coastal ecosystems and habitat impacted by Hurricane Sandy.

 

Department of Justice (DOJ): $15.25 million

$15.25 million to repair DOJ facilities and replace equipment damaged by Hurricane Sandy. These funds include: $4 million for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), $1 million for the Drug Enforcement Administration, $230,000 for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and $20,000 for the DOJ Inspector General.

 

National Aeronautics and Space Admin. (NASA): $15 million

Funds are provided to repair NASA facilities damaged by Hurricane Sandy.

 

Legal Services Corporation (LSC): $1 million

Funds are provided for technology and disaster coordinators to assist low-income clients eligible for legal aid in areas affected by Hurricane Sandy.

 

DEFENSE CHAPTER:

Department of Defense: $88.3 million

The recommendation funds 362 projects to repair damaged facilities and utilities, replace lost equipment, and remove debris in Department of Defense locations directly impacted by Hurricane Sandy. The projects range in size from $22 million to restore the pier complex at Naval Weapons Station Earle in New Jersey to multiple projects under $10,000 to repair damages sustained from water and high winds.

 

ENERGY AND WATER CHAPTER:

 

Corps of Engineers: $5.350 billion

Disaster Recovery: $1.838 billion.

 $1.008 billion for Flood Control and Coastal Emergency needs to restore projects to their design profiles rather than the pre-storm condition.

 $821 million for Operation & Maintenance needs.

 $9 million in Construction to repair damages to projects that were under construction at the time of Sandy.

 

Mitigation: $3.512 billion

 $3.452 billion for Construction needs.

 $50 million for Investigations to conduct studies.

 $10 million for general expenses for the Corps to manage the work.

 

FINANCIAL SERVICES AND GENERAL GOVERNMENT CHAPTER:

Small Business Administration: $812 million

$812 million is included to support the Small Business Administration’s response to Hurricane Sandy. Of the total amount for SBA, $760 million is provided for the disaster loan program to support lending to individuals suffering residential physical damage, to businesses of all sizes suffering physical damage, and to small businesses suffering economic injury.

 

An additional $5 million is provided for the Office of Inspector General to conduct oversight on the disaster loan program. For business redevelopment, $20 million is provided for grants to SBA’s partners (such as Small Business Development Centers) to provide immediate technical assistance for restarting businesses and for longer-term redevelopment counseling, and $20 million is provided for grants to states and local economic development entities for long-term redevelopment initiatives, including for regional business “clusters.”

 

General Services Administration: $7 million

$7 million is included to fund emergency repairs to federal buildings in New York and New Jersey impacted by Hurricane Sandy. The request consists of 24 projects at 12 facilities, including window replacement, roof repair, addressing water intrusion and drainage issues, build-out of space for displaced tenants, and repair of damage to mechanical and electrical building systems.

 

HOMELAND SECURITY CHAPTER:

Department of Homeland Security: $21.8 billion

Federal Emergency Management Agency:

 $11.5 billion for the FEMA Disaster Relief Fund to support disaster response and recovery needs;

 $300 million to subsidize Community Disaster Loans for local government operating expenses to prevent a cash flow problem for disaster response and recovery; and

 An increase of $9.7 billion in National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) borrowing authority (FEMA is expected to exhaust current borrowing authority by January 7, 2013)

 

United States Coast Guard: $274.2 million

Rebuilds and restores facilities and property damaged by Hurricane Sandy. Of the 38 shore facility locations in the states of Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, Delaware, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts, 23 sustained damage.

 

Customs and Border Protection: $1.7 million

Replaces 18 law enforcement vehicles damaged by Hurricane Sandy, including 4 mobile x-ray machines, and replenishes supplies (including generators) and damaged information technology equipment

 

Immigration and Customs Enforcement: $855,000

Replaces 40 law enforcement vehicles that were damaged by Hurricane Sandy at various locations in New York and New Jersey

 

United States Secret Service: $300,000

Replaces 8 damaged law enforcement vehicles and the radio communications equipment in each vehicle

 

Science and Technology: $3.3 million

Repairs work to the Plum Island Animal Disease Center. The Center’s support facilities sustained damage from Hurricane Sandy, including: beach erosion and a major undersea power cable.

 

Domestic Nuclear Detection Office: $3.9 million

Replaces radiation detection equipment destroyed or damaged by Hurricane Sandy

 

Language Issues:

Following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Louisiana, Mississippi, and other states struggled with the many cumbersome disaster recovery laws and regulations that simply are inadequate in dealing with a catastrophic disaster. In general, the Stafford Act only allows FEMA to build back the infrastructure that was in place before a disaster or deters communities from building to a higher standard that will mitigate the next disaster. This often creates needless bureaucratic hurdles to state and local governments as they rebuild after a disaster. Senators Landrieu and Cochran were successful in the months and years following Katrina/Rita to enact reforms but those reforms were limited to the Federal response to Katrina/Rita. Consistent with Chairman Landrieu’s statement at the December 5, 2012, Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee hearing, the bill provides similar reforms for Hurricane Sandy and future catastrophic disasters. These reforms are drawn from the Landrieu/Cochran disaster reform bill. Reforms would:

 improve FEMA’s Public Assistance programs to expedite rebuilding that has been well planned and includes mitigation measures for future disasters;

 relieve administrative burdens for very small projects;

 provide a cost effect alternative to contracting services when the local community can provide the service;

 expedite recovery by streamlining federal agency processes that ensure compliance with historic and environmental reviews;

 continue a third party dispute resolution process for major projects;

 require transparency on determinations to provide individual assistance by FEMA;

 

 

 allow for coverage of child care costs related to disaster recovery through FEMA individual assistance;

 allow FEMA to complete repair on rental properties as a cost-effective alternative to mobile homes;

 make Tribal governments directly eligible for FEMA assistance instead of assistance being provided through States;

 require a report on the sufficiency of the Community Disaster Loan program.

 

INTERIOR AND ENVIRONMENT CHAPTER:

Department of Interior:

National Park Service, Construction: $348 million

The bill provides $348 million in immediate reconstruction and recovery needs for Park Service units along the Eastern Seaboard that were damaged during the storm. Funds will be used for emergency stabilization needs and to replace or reconstruct facilities, roads and trails. The amount provides needed funding for iconic properties that were damaged during the storm including the Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island.

 

National Park Service, Historic Preservation Fund: $50 million

The bill provides $50 million to fund grants to States that received Presidential major disaster declarations for Hurricane Sandy to fund rehabilitation and restoration of historic properties.

 

Office of the Secretary, Departmental Operations: $150 million

The bill provides $150 million in flexible funding for the Office of the Secretary for restoration, recovery and mitigation priorities to protect against future storms and natural disasters. Funds provided within this appropriation can be transferred by the Secretary to any departmental program and may be used to fund activities such as restoration and habitat improvement grants to States and coastal restoration projects for national parks and refuges.

 

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Construction: $78 million

The bill provides $78 million for immediate reconstruction and recovery needs for national wildlife refuges on the Eastern Seaboard. Funds will be used for emergency stabilization needs, to replace or reconstruct facilities, roads and trails, and to implement facilities improvements needed to mitigate anticipated damage from future storms.

 

Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, Oil Spill Research: $3 million

The bill provides $3 million to the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement for necessary repairs to the bureau’s oil spill response testing facility in New Jersey.

 

Environmental Protection Agency:

Clean and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund Programs: $810 million

The bill provides $810 million in the EPA State and Tribal Assistance Grants appropriation for clean water and drinking water state revolving funds in states affected by Hurricane Sandy, including $700 million for clean water needs and $110 million for drinking water needs. Funds will flow through the Clean and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds programs and will be used in conjunction with other FEMA and Community Development Block Grant funds to provide targeted funding to upgrade water infrastructure to protect against future flooding, storm damage and other natural disasters.

 

Leaking Underground Storage Tank Trust Fund: $5 million

The bill provides $5 million to the EPA leaking underground storage tank cleanup program to address contaminant releases from federally regulated underground storage tanks.

 

Hazardous Substance Superfund: $2 million

The bill provides $2 million to the EPA Superfund program to assess, stabilize, and repair the damage at several Superfund National Priority List sites.

 

Environmental Programs and Management: $725,000

The bill provides $725,000 to assess water quality impact from partially treated or raw sewage and contaminated runoff and fund necessary repairs to damaged EPA facilities.

 

U.S. Forest Service:

Capital Improvement and Maintenance: $4,400,000

The bill provides $4.4 million for the Service to fund immediate reconstruction and recovery needs for affected national forests.

 

Smithsonian Institution:

Salaries and Expenses: $2,000,000

The bill includes $2 million for the Smithsonian Institution to address repairs to facilities damaged during Hurricane Sandy. Roof repairs will be needed at the National Museum of Natural History, the National Museum of American History, the National Air and Space Museum and its Udvar-Hazy Center, the National Zoo, the Museum Support Center and the Herndon Data Center.

 

LABOR, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES CHAPTER: $852 million

 

Department of Health and Human Services: $800 million

Administration for Children and Families, Social Services Block Grant (SSBG): $500 million

SSBG can be used for a wide range of social services. The primary uses of these funds are expected to be child care, including construction for damaged facilities; child and adult health and mental health services; and other human services.

 

Administration for Children and Families, Children and Families Services (Head Start): $100 million

This funding will pay for repairing approximately 265 Head Start centers that were damaged in the hurricane and other supplemental costs associated with continuing services to affected children

 

Office of the Secretary, Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund:

$200 million

Most of this funding will be used to support NIH research grant programs that suffered major damage.

 

Department of Labor: $50 million

Employment and Training Administration, Training and Employment Services:

$50 million

This funding will go to the Workforce Investment Act Dislocated Worker National Reserve, which will fund the temporary expansion of training and employment programs to help dislocated workers and worker protection activities.

 

MILITARY CONSTRUCTION & VETERANS AFFAIRS CHAPTER: $259.8 million

 

Military Construction: $24.2 million

Army National Guard: $24.2 million to replace eight damaged facilities at Sea Girt National Guard Training Center in New Jersey. The buildings experienced significant structural damage as a result of the storm surge and must be demolished and replaced.

 

Department of Veterans Affairs: $235.6 million

Major Construction: $207 million for the renovation and repair of key departments and systems at the VA Manhattan Medical Center. The facility experienced severe flooding and remains closed.

 

Medical Services: $21 million to replace damaged or destroyed medical equipment at the Manhattan Medical Center.

 

Medical Facilities: $6 million to repair or replace medical equipment and building systems at VA facilities throughout New York, including the Manhattan and Montrose VA Medical Centers.

 

National Cemetery Administration: $1.1 million to repair storm-related damages at three national cemeteries: Beverly, NJ; Cypress Hills, NY; and Long Island, NY.

 

Information Technology (IT): $500,000 for the repair or replacement of damaged IT equipment at the Manhattan Medical Center.

 

TRANSPORTATION, HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT CHAPTER

Department of Transportation: $12.070 billion

 

Federal Aviation Administration Facilities and Equipment Program: $30 million

The funds will pay for the most urgently needed repairs to facilities and equipment located at airports impacted by Hurricane Sandy and owned by Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

 

Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Emergency Relief Program: $921 million

The Emergency Relief Program pays for the repair of roads and bridges damaged by disasters.

 

National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak): $336 million

The funding will pay for property damage, operating losses, and improvements necessary to protect Amtrak’s tunnel system against future flooding and increase capacity into New York City. These enhancements will improve the resiliency of the rail and transit systems that serve the nation’s largest metropolis and financial capital.

 

Emergency Relief for Public Transportation: $10.783 billion

The funding will be provided through the Public Transportation Emergency Relief program to pay for the repair and restoration of public transit systems in the areas most affected by Hurricane Sandy, and to support mitigation projects that make transit systems better able to resist future storms and the rise in sea levels. Of the amount provided in the bill, up to $5,383 million may be transferred to other agencies at the Department of Transportation to support mitigation projects in other modes of transportation.

 

Department of Housing and Urban Development: $17 billion

Community Development Block Grants (CDBG): $17 billion

The funding provided in this account includes $15 billion for disaster relief, long-term recovery, restoration of infrastructure and housing, and economic revitalization in areas impacted by Hurricane Sandy. The bill includes an additional $2 billion for mitigation to reduce future risk. The bill requires the Secretary to establish a minimum award for all of the states impacted by Hurricane Sandy.

The bill language provides flexibility so that funds can be awarded and used quickly in impacted areas, while also ensuring accountability. Recipients of disaster CDBG funding will be required to submit plans for approval on how funding will be used to ensure funds are addressing the most pressing needs of impacted areas. The bill includes $10 million for HUD to conduct oversight and provide technical assistance to grantees. Specifically, the bill requires HUD to ensure grantees are placing appropriate performance requirements in contracts. In addition, $10 million is provided for HUD’s Office of Inspector General to monitor the use of these funds.

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