(Updates to reflect revised FEMA funding level on House Appropriations Committee website as of July 1.)
An in-demand federal disaster mitigation program could draw on previously provided funding under a spending bill released Tuesday.
The grant program was established by Congress in 2018 to fund resilience in places where a disaster has been declared. Thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, all states have disaster declarations and were eligible for funding in fiscal 2020. Almost 1,000 applicants requested $3.6 billion in grants, but only $500 million was available.
Federal Emergency Management Agency head Deanne Criswell said the eligibility of all states “gives us greater opportunity now to be able to invest in communities across the country” during a House Homeland Security Committee hearing Tuesday. The broad eligibility isn’t affecting the program’s operations, she added.
As natural disasters have become more frequent, policymakers have turned to pre-disaster mitigation to avert some of the worst effects. The Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities grant program was established under a 2018 law (Public Law 115-254) that authorizes the president to set aside 6% of estimated disaster expenses each year for pre-disaster mitigation efforts.
The House Appropriations Committee’s draft fiscal 2022 Homeland Security spending bill would make available as much as $500 million in prior-year funding for BRIC in addition to the 6% set-aside. There was a little more than $1 billion in FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund for pre-disaster mitigation at the end of February, according to the Congressional Research Service.
The draft measure, approved Wednesday by the Homeland Security Subcommittee, would provide $1.7 billion more to the Disaster Relief Fund for major disasters than in the current fiscal year. FEMA’s total funding would be increased by $2.1 billion from fiscal 2021, according to the panel.
To contact the reporter on this story: Nicole Sadek in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org