Florida’s Senators Champion the Disaster Assistance Simplification Act

Florida’s two senators on Capitol Hill continue to push a bill to ensure victims of natural disasters aren’t penalized by one branch of the federal government for refusing loans from another part of it.

Back in 2017, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., first introduced the “Disaster Assistance Simplification Act” which he has been championing since 2017.

The bill “would prohibit the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) from penalizing victims of qualified natural disasters who apply for, but decline, Small Business Administration (SBA) disaster loans.”

Rubio brought the bill back this week with the support of U.S. Sens. Rick Scott, R-Fla., and Ted Cruz, R-Texas.

“Survivors of natural disasters who apply for, but do not accept, SBA disaster loans are currently penalized when Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) disaster relief funds are awarded. Every dollar of SBA loan money for which they are approved is a dollar less that can be awarded in CDBG disaster relief grants. This bill would prevent HUD from penalizing those applicants,” Rubio’s office noted.

Rubio pointed to hurricanes that have hit the Sunshine State in recent years as one of the reasons he introduced the bill.

Hurricanes Sally, Michael, and Irma have caused catastrophic destruction throughout Florida and disrupted the lives of millions of Americans,” Rubio said on Monday. “The current disaster assistance process is unsynchronized and burdensome for victims of natural disasters. As Floridians, and thousands of Americans across our nation, continue to rebuild and recover from recent natural disasters, removing bureaucratic hurdles is imperative to ensuring that no victim is penalized for weighing their hurricane recovery options.”

“Throughout my time as governor of Florida, my state experienced multiple, devastating storms, which left families, businesses and communities with a huge burden to rebuild,” Scott said. “The Disaster Assistance Simplification Act will make it easier for business owners to begin recovering and rebuilding by streamlining services and eliminating burdensome government bureaucracy.”

“As Texas prepares for the upcoming hurricane season and continues the complicated process of rebuilding from prior storms, this legislation helps to better equip those impacted by natural disasters as they apply for federal grants and loans,” Cruz said. “It is crucial that Texans and Americans who need aid following these storms are not unknowingly penalized due to bureaucratic red tape. I am proud to once again join Sen. Rubio to ensure we can restore clarity to the recovery process.”

The bill was sent to the U.S. Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee. So far, there is no companion measure over in the U.S. House.

Reach Kevin Derby at kevin.derby@floridadaily.com

KEVIN DERBY
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