A bipartisan group of Texas representatives on Friday sent a letter to the top leaders in the U.S. Senate asking for action on stalled legislation that would send billions of dollars to states ravaged by hurricanes and other natural disasters last year.
The letter pleads for the Senate to pass an $81 billion supplemental funding bill approved by the U.S. House of Representatives before Christmas and said ongoing failure to pass the legislation was hurting hurricane victims.
“We have constituents, who, after most six months, remain in transitional housing and homes that lack weatherization as Texas remains in the grip of an unusually cold winter,” the letter stated. “It is past time for Congress to act.”
The letter was signed by U.S. Reps. Pete Olson, Sheila Jackson Lee, Randy Weber, Filemon Vela, Brian Babin, Gene Green, Blake Farenthold, Al Green, John Culberson, Michael McCaul, Ted Poe and Kevin Brady. It was addressed directly to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.
The bill would be the largest disaster recovery funding measure ever approved in United States history. Funds from the bill would go not only to Texas, but to Florida and Puerto Rico, which were struck by hurricanes Irma and Maria after Harvey came to Texas.
The money would also be sent to California, where wildfires destroyed tens of thousands of homes and businesses in December 2017.
But final passage has been delayed by other issues in Washington, most recently, conflict over funding the government that led to a showdown and a promised deal on immigration reform.
The congressional letter comes more than a week after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, California Gov. Jerry Brown, Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló and Florida Gov. Rick Scott sent their own letter asking for movement on the disaster funding bill.
“Its continued delay only exacerbates ongoing uncertainty in devastated areas,” the governors wrote. “Simply put, the communities devastated by these storms cannot be completely put back together until the federal government makes good on its promise to our citizens.”
No action has been taken on the disaster funding since it was initially read on the Senate floor Jan. 4.
Congress passed two disaster recovery bills following Harvey, which made landfall north of Corpus Christi on Aug. 25, 2017. Congress approved a $15 billion disaster recovery project in September 2017. That money went to Texas alone. In October 2017, Congress approved $36.5 billion for Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and California.
Abbott has asked for $61 billion for Texas recovery alone, and in November 2017 supplied Congress with a list of projects that could be completed in the state using federal disaster recovery money. In that request was a proposal for a barrier to be built along the coast in the Galveston area, among other local projects