Latest hurricane recovery funding proposal leaves Texans wanting more

On Friday, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released their latest funding proposal to aid Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands in hurricane and storm recovery. The proposal asks for $44 billion in additional funding as well as the necessary authorities to help these areas as they continue their rebuilding and recovery efforts.

Broken down, the request recommends $25.2 billion for disaster relief administered by FEMA, $1.0 billion for emergency agricultural assistance, $1.2 billion for Education recovery, and $4.6 billion in repair and replacement of federal property and federal agencies’ recovery costs. The proposal also requests that $12.0 billion be allocated to the Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery program.

These requested dollar amounts are based off recovery estimates from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, but because Hurricane Maria occurred more recently, the funding request says those damage assessments are still ongoing.

This latest proposal has drawn swift criticism from many within Texas, who say the aid request falls far short of what is necessary to recover from the devastation caused by these hurricanes. At the end of October, Gov. Abbot requested $61 billion in addition to the aid Texas anticipates receiving from FEMA.

At a press event to announce a $5 billion grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Abbot said,

“What was offered up by Mick Mulvaney and [his Office of Management and Budget] is completely inadequate for the needs of the state of Texas and I believe does not live up to what the president wants to achieve.”

Senator John Cornyn, who was also at the press event, described the proposal as “wholly inadequate.”

In addition, a group of Houston-area members of Texas’ congressional delegation released a statement saying,

“After reviewing the latest Office of Management and Budget (OMB) supplemental request for disaster recovery, we find the proposal insufficient and unacceptable. We have met personally with the Director of OMB and explained in detail the disaster of Harvey on Texas. Even so, we strongly believe the request is woefully inadequate. Hurricane Harvey and the subsequent flooding events that followed ranks as the second most costly disaster in modern times (the Fukushima Disaster ranks first). While damages are still being determined, estimates currently sit at approximately $190 billion or more. To be clear, this $44 billion proposal, to be split between multiple disaster areas, does not adequately address long-term recovery needs in Texas. The people of Texas need and deserve federal assistance for long-term flood mitigation, which this request does not sufficiently provide. We stand together opposed to this level of funding and will continue to fight to help Texas rebuild.”

Senator Cruz offered a more measured response, saying,

“The administration must keep its repeated commitments to provide Texas with the funding it needs to recover from Hurricane Harvey. I will carefully review OMB’s latest supplemental funding request, including its justifications for the proposed spending amounts. However, the constitutional responsibility to appropriate funding resides with Congress, and I will continue to work closely with the entire Texas delegation to ensure our great state has the resources it needs to rebuild and come back stronger than ever.”

However, this funding request may not be the last request sought after by the federal government. In the request, Mick Muvaney, Director of OMB, wrote,

“Accordingly, the Administration will continue to identify, refine, and articulate additional emergency funding requirements… this supplemental request does not represent the final request for their needs. There may be additional funding requests in the future.”