FEMA Implements Emergency Measures as Congress Stalls on Disaster Funding

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is implementing immediate needs funding — delaying recovery projects from previous disasters to prioritize dollars for immediate relief efforts in recent or future disasters.

FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund  is one of the primary ways the federal government helps state and local governments respond to events that presidentially declared disasters. FEMA has warned that the DRF is approaching exhaustion because of tens of billions of dollars already committed to prior disasters and a slate of recent extreme weather events.

According to FEMA, unless Congress and the Biden Administration agree on a funding bill or continuing resolution, the fund’s deficit could balloon to over $4 billion by mid-September.

When the DRF is projected to be insufficient to meet all Stafford Act requirements, FEMA must prioritize lifesaving and life-sustaining activities.

Under INF, FEMA continues funding life-safety and life-sustaining efforts including:

  • Individual Assistance payments directly to survivors for critical needs and housing
  • Public Assistance for states, tribes and territories essential for lifesaving and life-sustaining activities
  • State management costs
  • Mission assignments of Federal partners for critical response activities,
  • Fire Management Assistance grants
  • Essential ongoing disaster operations, including salaries of FEMA field staff (Stafford Act employees).

However, FEMA pauses obligations not necessary for lifesaving and life-sustaining activities. For example, under INF guidance, FEMA will pause all new obligations related to Public Assistance, such as hazard mitigation grants, that are not essential for lifesaving and life-sustaining activities.

The Maryland Department of Emergency Management is working to determine how INF will affect federal funding for ongoing projects in Maryland.

Stay tuned to Conduit Street for more information.

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