- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 4, 2017

The White House on Wednesday asked Congress to approve an additional quick infusion of nearly $30 billion for natural disaster relief, and lawmakers said they’ll speed the money through.

The request includes $12.8 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s operations, $16 billion to shore up the federal flood insurance program, and $577 million for wildfire-fighting efforts.

“The devastation caused by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria has disrupted millions of American lives, most recently in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands,” said House Speaker Paul D. Ryan. “We have sent aid from FEMA’s disaster relief accounts, but more is clearly needed, and this funding request will help meet that need.”

The request comes on top of a $15 billion infusion approved last month, in the wake of hurricanes that hit Texas and Florida. Now, with Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands devastated by storms, the need is much greater, officials said.

President Trump visited the island territories on Tuesday, combatting criticism that he wasn’t doing enough to help those suffering. He had been sparring with local officials, saying they were the hindrance for food and aid distribution, while federal agencies were doing their part.

Democrats, who have been among the loudest critics of the president, said he was right to request the additional assistance — but they said he was underselling the needs.

Rep. Nita Lowey, ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, said Congress should add money for social workers and community rebuilding, small business loans and infrastructure repairs.

“Such investments played critical roles in rebuilding from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy, and we owe no less to the victims in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands,” Ms. Lowey said.

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