An announcement that the White House would seek only $44 billion in its next round of disaster aid for hurricane-ravaged parts of the country disappointed some state leaders Friday.
However, dismay over that revelation was eased some by a separate announcement that Texas would soon receive $5 billion in federal disaster housing and infrastructure funds.
The latest White House disaster recovery aid request was announced on Friday morning by The Associated Press.
The $44 billion request falls far below what Texas state leaders hoped would be included in the latest round of funding as the state continues to recover from Hurricane Harvey and its record-setting destruction.
The request would send $24 billion to continue funding the Federal Emergency Management Agency and create a $12 billion grant program to pay for flood-risk mitigation projects, according to The Associated Press.
The measure still has to make it through both the House of Representatives and the Senate and could be changed significantly.
Still, some Texas leaders expressed dismay at the amount included in the aid package.
In a joint statement, U.S. Reps. Randy Weber, Ted Poe, Pete Olson, Blake Farenthold, Brian Babin, Michael McCaul and Kevin Brady called the Office of Management and Budget’s request “insufficient and unacceptable.”
“We strongly believe the request is woefully inadequate,” the letter states. “Hurricane Harvey and the subsequent flooding events that followed ranks as the second most costly disaster in modern times.”
The only thing more expensive, they said, was the 2010 Fukushima nuclear reactor meltdown.
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz said he was reviewing the administration’s proposal and the justifications behind it.
“The administration must keep its repeated commitments to provide Texas with the funding it needs to recover from Hurricane Harvey,” Cruz said.
U.S. Sen. John Cornyn told The Associated Press on Friday that the White House’s request was “wholly inadequate.”
Congress has already approved two aid packages for a combined $52 billion since Hurricane Harvey made landfall in August. All the federal aid also is meant to help Florida with recovery from Hurricane Irma and Puerto Rico with recovery from Hurricane Maria.
In October, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott unveiled a $61 billion request of projects in Texas that could potentially be funded by disaster recovery funds. That list included funding for the coastal storm surge barrier, known as the Ike Dike, and other projects in the Galveston County area.
Puerto Rico had made an even larger request to help its storm-ravaged island. Gov. Ricardo Rossello had requested $94 billion to help restore power grids and provide housing.
Texas did receive some good news Friday.
During a news conference in Austin, Abbott and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development deputy secretary Pam Patenaude announced that the state will receive $5 billion in grant money to help with housing needs.
The Texas General Land Office will administer the grant money. Abbott said it would still be another two weeks before details about how that money will be distributed is finalized.
“This $5 billion today is just the next step,” Abbott said. He called the White House’s proposal for $44 billion “inadequate.”
The land office estimates it will take some $60 billion in long-term federal funds to repair or replace housing and infrastructure damaged by Hurricane Harvey.
The grants will be used for housing redevelopment, business assistance and infrastructure repair, according to the land office.
Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush, credited Abbott, U.S. Housing Secretary Ben Carson and Texas’ Congressional delegation for helping secure the housing aid.
The money, “will be a critical step in the long-term rebuilding of our devastated Texas communities,” Bush said.