The U.S. Congress early Friday approved a massive budget agreement that includes almost $90 billion in disaster relief that will send more money to Texas to aid Hurricane Harvey recovery.

The approval came despite late controversy over the bill adding to the federal deficit, steered by U.S. Sen. Rand Paul and echoed by several congressmen.

Paul blocked a vote on the bill late Thursday, fighting against raising the debt ceiling, which led to a brief government shutdown before the bill was passed by both chambers early Friday.

“I could not vote against this bill only to return home to a district where tens of thousands of families are still without livable homes, where small businesses are struggling and where infrastructure is in dire need of repair,” U.S. Rep. Randy Weber said.

The bill includes the third round of federal disaster relief that has been discussed since the U.S. House of Representatives voted 251-169 in December 2017 to approve an $81 billion disaster aid package.

Legislators from districts affected by Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma and other disasters pushed for the bill, claiming the need for aid was still acute.

But that relief bill wasn’t approved by the Senate.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz during a visit to Galveston County in January said he hoped a third disaster relief bill would be passed before the money got entangled in Washington policy battles, while U.S. Sen. John Cornyn said the bill would likely become tied to funding the government.

Friday’s $89.3 billion in disaster relief includes $15 billion for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to conduct flood mitigation projects and about $28 billion to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for Community Development Block Grants, among other items.

The relief will also include $25 million for programs funded under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, a spokeswoman with Weber’s office said.

Because of the 1987 federal law classifying students displaced because of natural disasters as homeless, school districts are required to transport students that might live outside the district’s geographic range.

The $25 million will allow districts to apply for reimbursement for those transportation costs, officials said.

State and local leaders, such as Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush, praised the relief package Friday.

“Texas’ recovery from Hurricane Harvey continues, and today’s passage of disaster funding in Congress will help the state rebuild from this storm and mitigate and prepare for the next one.”

Friday’s approval is the third round of federal disaster relief.

Congress in October 2017 approved a $36 billion disaster relief bill that followed on the heels of a $15 billion measure that passed in September 2017, Cruz said.

Weber Friday said more relief funds could be on the table in future months.

“I told Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that I’m not sure this is enough to get it all done,” Weber said. “I said there is infrastructure that needs to be rebuilt as well. And McConnell said there may be more after this. We’re keeping our fingers crossed.”

Matt deGrood: 409-683-5230; matt.degrood@galvnews.com

Locations

(3) comments

Dwight Burns

The Dickinson Bayou was out of its banks in some areas today as I drove West on FM 517 towards I-45.

On Hwy 3, a water guiser was being observed by a Highway worker. He had the hwy blocked off over the man hole cover where the water was squirting from.

Observation: If 3 to 4 ins. of rain causes this much flow, our County Engineers are going to need input from the Feds in order to remedy this flooding problem.

PD Hyatt

To much building is going on with no where for the water to go.... On 200r there is a ton of homes getting ready to be built and the drainage people that gave out the permits do not have a clue about what they are doing or care as none of them live down stream from where all that building is going on.... All they are doing to building a deep wide ditch to drain all of their waters that used to stand in those fields to the bayous that have never been cleaned out, widened, deepened or anything done to them.... As long as they get the water away from those new homes, who cares about what they do to the people downstream of them.... That is happening all over Galveston County, Harris county and probably everywhere else that the flooding has happened.... To be honest I doubt that they will do anything for the ones near the bayous, they will just focus on how much more water that they can push in the direction of the bayous and let the problem be at the bayous.... I have yet to hear anyone talk about doing anything to our bayous in Hitchcock....If you don't fix the drain plug you have not fixed the problem....

Jose' Boix

Just consider these facts below:
www.gcbonds2008.com
The County has three propositions on the November 4, 2008 ballot. They are:
Proposition 1 = $75 Million for Road Improvements
Proposition 2 = $15 Million for Drainage Improvements
Proposition 3 = $45 Million for Facilities Improvements and New Construction

Proposition 2 = This proposition would focus on de-snagging and otherwise alleviating flooding along Dickinson Bayou and the Dickinson Bayou Watershed. Another $10 million would be spent to battle longtime flooding problems along Clear Creek including construction of a detention area. It was understood that with partnerships from the Harris County and Brazoria County flood control districts the project could reduce flooding by as much as 2.5 feet along Clear Creek.

So fast forward to 2017, and we – the voters - approved an $80M Bond for a variety of additional projects, and accordingly, we don’t really know what happened with the $135M approved 2008.

It is great to read all these posts about projects, bonds, State funding, etc. but "we" don't really have a clear and detailed accountability of not only if these projects were done, but less if they were effective. Isn't it time to get such reports?

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