What to Know in Washington: Biden Seeks More Disaster Aid

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President Joe Biden is requesting an additional $4 billion in disaster relief from Congress in the aftermath of Hurricane Idalia and the recent fires in Maui, substantially increasing the cost of a sweeping emergency package requested by the White House just weeks ago.

The administration is now asking for a total of $16 billion “given the intensity of disaster activity around the nation — including fires on Maui, in Louisiana, and across the country, massive flooding in Vermont, and now a major hurricane that hit Florida and the Southeast,” the Office of Management and Budget said in a statement.

The increase from the administration’s original request of $12 billion underscores the severity and growing score of the recent natural disasters, with the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency saying as recently as Tuesday the agency still believed its initial estimate would be sufficient.

Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images
President Joe Biden visits FEMA headquarters to thank the team staffing the National Response Coordination Center throughout Hurricane Idalia and the fires in Maui, Hawaii.

Yet the proposal faces a difficult path on Capitol Hill, where some hardline conservatives in the House of Representatives are hoping to use the request to exact other spending cuts.

Further complicating the White House’s request — which would replenish FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund — is Biden’s insistence that the funding should move alongside more than $28 billion the White House wants to assist Ukraine and address migration issues on the US Southern border. Speaker Kevin McCarthy earlier this summer indicated he might demand concessions to offset the cost of additional assistance for the effort to bolster Ukraine.

Biden tried to rally support despite Republican skepticism during a visit to FEMA headquarters in Washington on Thursday, where he met with officials monitoring recovery efforts after Idalia.

The president expressed disbelief with lawmakers who did not support the emergency request, adding that legislation authorizing the additional spending had to be passed within the next month. Read the full story from Justin Sink.


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Editor’s Note: BGOV’s What to Know in Washington will not publish during the Monday, Sept. 4 Labor Day federal holiday. Publication resumes Tuesday, Sept. 5.

To contact the reporters on this story: Giuseppe Macri in Washington at gmacri@bgov.com; Brandon Lee in Washington at blee@bgov.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kayla Sharpe at ksharpe@bloombergindustry.com

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