|Workers from Fort Pierce, Fla., clear sand from road in Hutchinson Island after Hurricane Jeanne. |
(Photo courtesy of FEMA /Mark Wolfe)
The House has passed a bill providing an additional $11 billion to help hurricane-hammered Florida and other states hit by natural disasters to clean up and rebuild. The measure, approved Oct. 6, now goes to the Senate, which could take it up as early as Oct. 7. But House Appropriations Committee Chairman C.W. Bill Young (R-Fla.) is seeking to add a further $1.6 billion, to cover updated damage estimates from Florida. If the Senate clears the $11-billion package and Young's additional $1.6 billion also makes it through Congress, it would bring total storm-related emergency aid approved since Sept. 8 to $14.6 billion.
The $11-billion measure, which contains the amount President Bush requested, follows a $2-billion emergency aid measure enacted on Sept. 8. The largest share of the new funding, $6.5 billion, would go to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for aid to people affected by the four recent hurricanes and other storms, as well as for repairing utility lines and other damaged infrastructure.
The legislation also provides $800 million to the Federal Highway Administration to fix roads; and $245 million to the Corps of Engineers for channel restoration and coastal area rehabilitation. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration would get $126 million, including $89 million for repairs at Kennedy Space Center; and the Dept. of Veterans Affairs would be allotted $121 million to fix damaged facilities.
Young's latest add-on, contained in a bill introduced Oct. 6, has an additional $750 million for FHWA, $30 million for airports, $147 million for the Corps, and $108 million for national parks and wildlife refuges. It offsets that spending by reducing other highway contract authority.