WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Funding that could potentially help North Carolina recover after Hurricane Florence is caught up in a months-long fight on Capitol Hill. It remains unclear if or when a deal might be struck.
- A supplemental disaster aid bill has been in the works since before the record-length partial government shutdown.
- The bill includes funding for North Carolina, as well as other regions of the United States impacted by recent natural disasters.
- The fight over Puerto Rico and how much financial relief the island needs after Hurricane Maria has been at the center of the partisan fight for months.
A supplemental disaster aid bill has been in the works since before the record-length partial government shutdown, but has still made it through Congress in part due to a dispute over assistance for Puerto Rico. The bill includes funding for North Carolina, as well as other regions of the United States impacted by recent natural disasters.
“We really need it now, and we need the assurance now,” said Rep. David Price, D-4th district, who is on the House committee that oversees funding bills.
Price says at least one version of the legislation included potentially hundreds of millions of dollars for North Carolina to help after Hurricane Florence. That includes, he says, approximately $200 million in Community Development Block Grants, plus additional funding for farmers, infrastructure, and repairs on military bases.
“We have billions of dollars of unmet need, and Camp Lejeune alone its over $3 billion. We have more resources we need down in Fayetteville and Fort Bragg,” said Sen. Thom Tillis, R-North Carolina.
However, so far there is no agreement on the legislation. While a version has passed the House, it is unclear what will get out of the Senate or when.
The fight over Puerto Rico and how much financial relief the island needs after Hurricane Maria has been at the center of the partisan fight for months. While Democrats want to boost the amount of aid to the island, as recently as this week, the President called for reining in funding. Among the North Carolina delegation there is also division.
“These are US citizens, they’ve had a horrible disaster, arguably worse than any of the state-side disasters,” Price said.
“We’re happy to support Puerto Rico, but we’ve had storms that have had far more extensive impact in the United States that also should get the resources that the citizens desperately need,” Tillis said. Puerto Rico is a part of the United States, and people born there are American citizens.
If the Senate and House cannot agree on a disaster aid plan, they will likely go into a conference committee to continue negotiations.
“It’s just too bad we can’t muster the bipartisanship and actually patriotism that has helped us in the past get past our differences and help those in need,” Price said.
Congress has already approved more than $1 billion in assistance for North Carolina after Florence.