Democratic Sen. Mary L. Landrieu has urged her fellow senators to press President Obama to boost funding for natural disaster victims in the South and Midwest.
In a “dear colleague” letter dated Wednesday, the Louisiana Democrat called on the chamber to encourage Mr. Obama to allocate emergency money to help victims of more than two dozen presidentially declared disasters and emergencies ranging from tornadoes in the South and Midwest to fires in Texas and flooding in the Mississippi River Valley.
“In just the past two months, the president has issued 27 disaster and emergency declarations in 18 states,” Mr. Landrieu wrote. “Yet, to date the president has not sought additional emergency funding to cover these events.”
Even before this spring’s rash of natural disasters the Federal Emergency Management Agency estimated a $3 billion shortfall unless Congress increased the $1.8 billion that President Obama requested for the agency’s Disaster Relief Fund for fiscal year 2012.
FEMA says it has $2.4 billion available in the fund. But with parts of the nation facing historic natural disasters, many worry the money will dry up quickly.
Mrs. Landrieu, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee, says the fund will run out of money buy next spring unless it receives a cash boost.
“After surviving a disaster, citizens should not be victimized by their government by stopping or slowing recovery efforts for failure to budget responsibly,” she wrote in the letter.
The Republican-controlled House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday requested $1 billion in emergency disaster relief money. The extra money would be offset by a spending cut elsewhere.
The full House and Senate must approve the panel’s emergency package before the money can be allocated.