The U.S. Congress passed a $400 billion budget deal early Friday—the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018—which included almost $90 billion in federal disaster relief funding for states hit by hurricanes, wildfires and other disasters, including Texas.
State and county officials, including Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn and Harris County Judge Ed Emmett released statements following the passage of the bill expressing relief and gratitude.
“Today’s passage of disaster funding marks another crucial step forward as Texans continue to recover and rebuild in the aftermath of [Hurricane] Harvey, and I thank the Texas delegation and leaders in Congress for taking action to pass this critical recovery package,” Abbott said in a statement. “The much-needed funding included in the bill for flood mitigation projects, housing and infrastructure repairs, will provide a meaningful benefit to Texas.”
Emmett said he hopes the funds approved by Congress can be made available to be put to use quickly.
“Now that Congress has acted, we move on to the next stages, which is to request action from the State of Texas on our joint city-county request for at least $200 million in aid to shore up our damaged flooding infrastructure,” Emmett said in a statement. “With that in hand, the county can finally move forward in funding its own mitigation and buy-back programs.”
Although how the money gets split up between Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and other areas recovering from disasters has not been specified, the bill did include the following specifications.
- $23.5 billion will go to replenish the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Disaster Relief Fund
- $15.1 billion will go to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for construction and repairs for flood mitigation projects. ($10.4 billion of that will go to states affected by hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria)
- $28 billion will go to the U.S. Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Fund (up to $16 billion of that will go to unmet needs from 2017 disasters while $12 billion is meant to cover mitigation).
All Greater Houston area representatives in the Senate and House of Representatives voted in favor of the budget bill. The bill passed along bipartisan lines in both the House and Senate, where it passed 240-186 and 71-28, respectively.