(WASHINGTON, D.C. – August 4, 2022) Earlier this week, the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee unanimously passed out of committee the Disaster Assistance Simplification Act, a bipartisan bill introduced by Sens. Gary Peters (D-MI) and James Lankford (R-OK) that will streamline the application process for disaster relief assistance across federal agencies.
This bill would simplify the often complex and duplicative application processes that survivors of hurricanes, floods, wildfires, and other natural disasters must complete in order to receive the necessary government funding to start recovering and rebuilding from such events. The legislation will implement a universal disaster application (led by the Federal Emergency Management Agency) so that federal agencies can share relevant information to streamline and expedite the process and get recovery dollars on the ground sooner.
"Climate disasters are impacting more communities across our country than ever before. Federal agencies must evolve to ensure they can get relief and recovery dollars on the ground as quickly as possible, so communities can rebuild and be more resilient to future disasters.
"The current process requires survivors of disasters to first know how to apply for aid and then jump through too many hoops at a time when they should be solely focused on healing and rebuilding their homes and communities. Historically, as a result of the inaccessibility and complexity of application processes, communities of color have received less disaster aid than their white counterparts, despite experiencing greater impacts from disasters. Federal agencies must remove barriers and increase access to relief and recovery dollars for communities that urgently need this support, specifically for low-income communities and communities of color.
"This legislation is an important step toward advancing forward-looking, whole-of-government approaches needed to help communities confront the climate crisis. We thank Sens. Peters and Lankford for their leadership and foresight, and we look forward to continuing to work with them and the rest of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs to advance similar solutions in the future.”
Natalie Snider, Associate Vice President, Climate Resilient Coasts and Watersheds, Environmental Defense Fund
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