Hurricane Harvey – A Congressional Disaster



Hurricane Harvey made landfall on August 25. As Hurricane Irma made landfall on the Caribbean Islands in a direct path for Florida and beyond, the U.S. Congress has taken no affirmative action yet to provide relief for Harvey. Almost two weeks after Harvey devastated Texas, the U.S. House of Representatives passed and sent a relief budget to the U.S. Senate. A recovery package only representing a small fraction of what will be required. Now the recovery package is expected to drag through the U.S. Senate as opposition parties work on attaching a “backroom deal’’ raising the nation’s long-term debt limit. Help for Hurricane Harvey victims from the U.S. Congress will arrive well after Hurricane Irma delivers destruction across the Caribbean and Florida. Congressional planning for Irma victims has not even started.

The majority of the funding ($7.4 billion compared to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s estimate between $150 and $180 billion) in the House bill is intended to replenish the coffers of FEMA that are expected to run dry on Friday while Irma brings more devastation requiring immediate relief. Ohh… the hardship on the U.S. Congress – House Speaker Paul Ryan told GOP lawmakers in a closed-door meeting Wednesday morning that they must agree to a funding deal this week, even if it means staying in town through Saturday (while their U.S. constituents flee for their lives).

The remainder of the House approved funding is a meager $450,000 for the Small Business Administration’s disaster loan program. That’s not even enough to spool up the SBA bureaucracy. When will funding that actually buys a truckload of bricks and mortar be made available? Of course, that meager amount isn’t actually on its way to help people since it first has to go to the Senate, bicker about the federal budget limit, and then return it to the House where the revision may or may not pass since the House is planning to only stay in town until Saturday – come hell or high water.

In the meantime, the destruction left behind by Harvey is unimaginable. Of course, the biggest tragedy are the many precious lives that were lost but now the survivors need to rebuild their lives. Both their homes and their businesses. That is going to require a huge influx of building materials, heavy equipment, and workers. All of that is going to require money, especially for those that did not have flood insurance. Although American volunteers had feet on the ground before the flood waters receded, the financial purse strings in Washington D.C. remain hamstrung behind closed doors. Maybe as long as you are online contributing to the relief effort, you can send a note to congress asking if they can help also?

What do you think should be happening right now to help the people in Texas and other hurricane victims? Please leave comments about your insights and thoughts.

Author bio: Brian Kline has been investing in real estate for more than 35 years and writing about real estate investing for seven years. He also draws upon 35 plus years of business experience including 12 years as a manager at Boeing Aircraft Company. Brian currently lives at Lake Cushman, Washington. A vacation destination, a few short miles from a national forest. In the Olympic Mountains with the Pacific Ocean a couple of miles in the opposite direction.

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