WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (D-GA) released the following statement regarding his support for the disaster assistance bill and the continuing resolution to fund the government. The disaster assistance bill includes $81 billion in assistance for communities impacted by recent storms, fires, hurricanes, and other natural disasters. It passed the House by a vote of 251 to 169. The continuing resolution, which will fund the government through January 19, 2018, passed the House by a vote of 231 to 188.
“Although there is more work to be done, the disaster assistance bill and continuing resolution approved in the House today are a step in the right direction.
“As part of its $81 billion in support for recovery efforts in communities impacted by recent natural disasters, including Georgia, Texas, Florida, California, Louisiana, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the disaster assistance bill provides $3.8 billion for agriculture recovery efforts.
“I am especially pleased the bill includes my provisions that finally identify cotton seed as a named commodity. This important designation means cotton seed can now be eligible for Title I Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage programs, which will go a long way in assisting with recovery efforts. Unfortunately, the supplemental fails to include important reforms I put forward on the Tree Assistance Program (TAP). These reforms would have made TAP more effective and responsive to the needs of orchardists and tree growers, like those in the pecan industry, who sustained damage by natural disasters. However, I am working with Senate colleagues to include these reforms in the Senate version of the bill.
“Although the continuing resolution is not a long-term, comprehensive measure, as I would strongly prefer, it includes a much needed extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). CHIP provides health insurance for 9 million children across the country. Governor Nathan Deal directly reached out to the Georgia delegation to stress the disastrous consequences that would be faced by Georgia’s children if CHIP were not extended. Furthermore, the continuing resolution includes necessary funding for the Veterans Choice Program, which provides additional health care options for our nation’s veterans.
“I supported the two pieces of legislation passed today due to their essential provisions for our children, veterans, and disaster-impacted communities. It is vital that Congress completes its work when it returns in January and enacts a robust full-year funding measure that provides certainty to families, businesses, agencies, and communities.”
DISASTER ASSISTANCE BILL HIGHLIGHTS:
Package Total: $81 billion
President’s Request: $44 billion
Agriculture Total: $3.8 billion
Key language impacting agriculture includes $2.6 billion for agriculture disaster assistance, including those related crop and livestock losses in disaster designated zones:
- $165 million for repairs and mitigation for rural water and waste disposal systems
- $2 million for technical assistance grants for rural water and waste disposal systems
- $18.6 million for loans for rehabilitation of damaged USDA multi-family properties
- $22 million for repair of damaged Agriculture Research Service buildings and facilities
Animal and Plant Health
- $906 million for Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
- $541 million for watershed and flood prevention efforts
Farm Service Programs
- $1.6 billion for various programs to help American farmers and ranchers implement the 2014 Farm Bill to aid in disaster recovery efforts, and staffs local Farm Service Agency offices
- $400 million for emergency conservation efforts to mitigate future disaster risks
- Removes the cap on livestock crop insurance expenses
- Allows USDA to issue block grants to disaster-affected areas or to provide direct assistance through the Farm Service Agency
Food and Nutrition Programs
- $24 million for the Emergency Food Assistance Program for hurricane and wildfire-affected states and territories
- Expands 5-state pilot program to address possible duplicate enrollments among SNAP beneficiaries
Unfortunately, the third emergency disaster supplemental fails to include a $14 million proposal to rebuild WIC health and wellness clinics in Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands.