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Fema Assistance Relief Act of 2020

Floor Speech

Date: Nov. 17, 2020
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. BYRNE. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H.R. 8266, the FEMA Assistance Relief Act of 2020.

This year has been difficult for everyone, but our small local governments have been some of the hardest hit due to extreme losses in tax revenue. This is especially true in southwest Alabama.

In September, Hurricane Sally made landfall in Gulf Shores, bringing record-breaking rainfall, over 30 inches in some places, and winds above 110 miles per hour. Just weeks later, Hurricane Zeta passed through our State, causing further devastation, especially in rural parts of Mobile, Washington, and Clark Counties.

That is right. I have had two hurricanes in one season in my district. These storms caused tens of millions of dollars in damage and left significant amounts of debris.

This would be difficult on a small town's budget in a normal year, but pandemic-related issues coupled with unexpected costs from severe storm damage will further stretch the already limited budgets of many of our communities.

Already, a local government in south Alabama has made the difficult decision not to purchase a much-needed new police vehicle due to the impacts of COVID-19 and Hurricane Sally on their budget.

The current 75-25 percent FEMA Federal-State cost share is simply unworkable in this challenging year.

This important legislation will raise the Federal cost share of pandemic-related disaster relief to 100 percent and all other relief for disasters this year, including the hurricanes that have devastated the Gulf Coast, to a minimum of 90 percent. Making this adjustment will help reduce the burden on our local communities and help strengthen the recovery process.

Mr. Speaker, I hope that Members from both sides will join me in supporting this critical legislation.

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