Last night, the House Appropriations Committee unveiled an enhanced $36.5 billion emergency funding bill (text) for hurricane and wildfire relief that exceeds the White House’s original request for an aid bill to benefit victims of recent hurricanes and wildfires. The breakdown of funds includes $18.7 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s disaster relief fund, $576.5 million for wildfire recovery, and $16 billion to keep the National Flood Insurance program (NFIP) afloat. The bill is expected to receive a vote on the House floor this week and is likely to be taken up by the Senate soon after they return to Washington next week.
In addition to direct aid, the legislation also provides Puerto Rico with access to a $4.8 billion low-interest loan aimed at giving the financially-troubled territory access to cash for its long-term recovery. Extensive damage from Hurricane Maria has severely weakened the island’s economic sector, particularly tourism, leaving the bankrupt island with even fewer dollars in its tax coffers. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) will be leading a bipartisan delegation to Puerto Rico on Friday to survey the damage and speak to local officials on recovery efforts.
On the House floor today, lawmakers will consider a series of ten suspension bills, primarily dealing with administrative improvements and government oversight initiatives. One bill, the NIST Small Business Cybersecurity Act (H.R. 2105), would require the National Institutes for Standards and Technology (NIST) to publish guidance to help reduce small business cybersecurity risks in the wake of high profile breaches at Equifax and the Securities and Exchange Commission. The other bills on today’s agenda can be found here.