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Congress approves $8 billion for disaster aid

Some heating assistance restored

December 19, 2011
By CHRIS MORRIS - Staff Writer (cmorris@adirondackdailyenterprise.com) , Adirondack Daily Enterprise

A funding bill passed by Congress includes billions of dollars in disaster aid for communities hit by severe weather and restores some heating assistance for New York.

The 2012 Final Consolidated Appropriations Bill, which passed the U.S. House and the Senate last week, averts a potential government shutdown. The federal government had been operating on a stopgap spending bill.

U.S. Rep. Bill Owens said the funding levels contained within the bill are consistent with a discretionary spending limit of about $1 trillion set earlier this year by the Budget Control Act of 2011.

Article Photos

U.S. Reps. Bill Owens (left) and Chris Gibson
(Enterprise file photos)

"I am glad to see Congress complete its work on the remaining spending bills for 2012," Owens said in a press release. "This agreement will provide needed certainty for the remainder of the fiscal year, and I hope both parties will continue to work together in the coming year to put our nation's fiscal house in order."

The spending bill totals $915 billion, about $6 billion less than 2011. It includes $8.1 billion in disaster aid for communities across the country like Keene and Jay that were devastated by Tropical Storm Irene.

"Funding for disaster response is critical to the federal government's ability to work with state officials efficiently and provide aid when necessary, and I am glad to see that this aid will be paid for," Owens said.

U.S. Rep. Chris Gibson said in a separate statement that the additional relief funds build upon the $2.65 billion that was provided to the Federal Emergency Management Agency in September.

According to Gibson, $6.4 billion will go to FEMA's Disaster Relief Fund. Those funds cover fire assistance, emergency declarations, major disasters and readiness support. The remaining $1.7 billion goes to the Army Corps of Engineers for repairs to critical infrastructure and to help prepare for future disasters.

The appropriations bill also includes $3.47 billion for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which Gibson said was a compromise between the House and the Senate. He said most of those funds will be distributed under the old formula, meaning more money will go to cold-weather states like New York.

 
 

 

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