Harkin Secures $400 Million in Emergency Funding for Iowa

JUNE 20TH, 2008 | Harkin for Senate

While traveling on Air Force One today with the President, Senator Tom Harkin was able to negotiate a last minute change in the supplemental appropriations spending bill now before the House of Representatives, moving funds to programs that can soon benefit disaster areas. Harkin successfully negotiated a shift in funding from Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to two programs – the Community Development Block Grant program and the Economic Development Administration disaster programs – that will benefit Iowa and states affected by the recent flooding and excessive rainfall this year. The result will be $400 million in additional funding for infrastructure, housing and related needs. Congress funds FEMA in advance and it is expected that there will be sufficient funds to cover FEMA initiatives until early next year.

Senator Harkin was able to travel with the President and talk with him about the need to quickly provide these funds. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Jim Nussle, an Iowa native, was there and was very helpful in convincing Administration officials that this would be a logical change.

Senator Harkin had several conversations with key Congressional leaders before the trip; House leaders felt that the change could not be made without White House approval under agreements made about the bill.

“Iowa is facing the largest flood in our state’s history – residents are displaced, cities are under water and businesses are wondering how they are going to rebuild,” said Harkin. “It breaks my heart to see the devastation caused by the flooding and excessive rainfall.

“I am going to use every opportunity – every minute if necessary – to make sure Iowa has what is needed to rebuild. The president and OMB Director Nussle saw firsthand the devastation today. I am grateful for their support of our efforts.”

The original draft of the supplemental bill contained $1.3 billion for FEMA. Of that, Harkin negotiated for $300 million to go toward the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program and $100 million for the Economic Development Administration (EDA).

CDBG is a very flexible account that is allocated by state and local governments for infrastructure and housing needs. The funds are normally allocated to the states on a basis of the damage level and then state allocates the funding as needed.

EDA funds can be used on business-related infrastructure and planning. Effectively, broad range infrastructure can be funded under their disaster program. These funds can be used for a lot of business specific projects where CBDG dollars might not be usable.

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