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Monday, January 28, 2013

FY2013 Supplemental Funding for Disaster Relief: Summary and Considerations for Congress

William L. Painter, Coordinator
Analyst in Emergency Management and Homeland Security Policy

Jared T. Brown, Coordinator
Analyst in Emergency Management and Homeland Security Policy

In late October 2012, Hurricane Sandy impacted a wide swath of the East Coast of the United States. The President has declared major disasters for 12 states plus the District of Columbia under the authority of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 5121 et seq). The Administration submitted a request to Congress on December 7, 2012, for $60.41 billion in supplemental funding and legislative provisions to address both the immediate losses and damages from Hurricane Sandy, as well as to mitigate the damage from future disasters in the impacted region.

The Administration’s proposal includes $47.44 billion in funding for a range of disaster assistance, and $12.97 billion specifically for mitigation of damage from potential future storms and flooding. Budget authority of $55 billion was requested as emergency funding, while $5.4 billion was requested as disaster relief under the Budget Control Act (BCA).

On December 17, 2012, S.Amdt. 3338, entitled the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act, 2013, was introduced as an amendment to H.R. 1 of the 112
th Congress. This bill was a continuing resolution that had previously passed the House of Representatives, and served as the Senate legislative vehicle for disaster relief supplemental appropriations. On December 19, the amendment was withdrawn and S.Amdt. 3395, with the same title and overall cost, was offered in its place.

This legislation would have provided $60.41 billion in supplemental appropriations for disaster assistance, as well as a suite of legislative provisions that included reforms to disaster assistance authorities. The Senate amendment did not explicitly separate all its mitigation provisions from other relief appropriations, although it does reference some funding as being for mitigation. Budget authority of $55 billion in the legislation was designated as emergency funding, while $5.379 billion in funding for the Disaster Relief Fund would have been designated as being for disaster relief under the BCA. A budget point of order was upheld against part of the legislation, removing the emergency designation from $3.461 billion of construction funding for the Army Corps of Engineers. The Senate amended the amendment, passed it by voice vote and then passed the amended legislation as H.R. 1 on December 28, 2012, by a vote of 62-32. The House did not act on the legislation before the end of the 112
th Congress. On January 4, both the House and Senate passed H.R. 41, a separate piece of legislation providing $9.7 billion in additional borrowing authority for the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). H.R. 41 was signed by the President on January 6, 2013.

This report provides a brief analysis of the Administration’s request; compares it to the Senateamended H.R. 1, including analysis of the major legislative provisions; and offers a survey of considerations for Congress regarding disaster relief supplemental appropriations. The report also includes a list of CRS experts available to provide more in-depth analysis of the implications of this evolving legislation. On January 10, 2013, a draft bill entitled the Sandy Recovery Improvement Act of 2013, co-sponsored by Representatives Denham, Norton, Shuster, and Rahall, was posted to the “Bills to be Considered on the House Floor” website. The Sandy Recovery Improvement Act of 2013 includes many provisions that are similar to those included in the Disaster Recovery Act of 2012, which was Section 609 of the Senate-amended H.R. 1. The House is tentatively scheduled to vote on the Sandy Recovery Improvement Act of 2013 under a suspension of the rules on January 14, 2013. CRS experts are available to discuss the provisions of this draft bill.

Date of Report: January 11, 2013
Number of Pages: 59
Order Number: R42869
Price: $29.95

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