Stimulus funds for Southwest La La. excluded from spending bill – American Press
Local elected officials expressed disappointment Thursday at the lack of additional federal disaster assistance for Southwest Louisiana in the House-approved omnibus spending bill.
Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter said in a statement he was not surprised hurricane relief was not included in the $1.5 trillion spending plan approved by the House on Wednesday. evening. The Senate has until Friday to vote on the bill and avoid a partial government shutdown. However, the House also approved a short-term measure that would extend current funding until March 15 and give the Senate more time, if needed, to approve the bill and send it to President Joe Biden’s office.
Hunter and other local elected leaders have called the omnibus spending bill a last resort to secure federal funds for the long-term recovery from Hurricanes Laura and Delta. Last September, Congress approved $600 million in federal hurricane assistance, but local officials have repeatedly said that amount falls far short of long-term needs.
“Since the first day after Hurricane Laura, this community has received empty promises and empty gestures from members of both major political parties,” Hunter said. “The Supplemental Disaster Assistance process is extremely political, and it appears our political clout here in Southwest Louisiana was not enough to warrant the kind of fair response other communities have received. in the past.”
Calcasieu Parish Police Jury Chairman Tony Stelly said in a statement that the recovery is underway but has been “unnecessarily strenuous due to the lack of appropriate disaster relief”.
“Put simply, the continued inability to appropriate adequate disaster relief that devastated southwest Louisiana more than a year and a half ago is hard to believe,” Stelly said.
U.S. Rep. Clay Higgins, R-La., released a statement Wednesday, saying he would vote against the omnibus spending bill. He said it was unacceptable to set aside long-term federal disaster assistance for hurricanes Laura, Delta and Ida.
“That’s yet another reason I can’t support this bill,” Higgins said.
U.S. Senators John Kennedy, R-La., and Bill Cassidy, R-La., proposed an amendment to the spending package to include $2.5 billion for disaster relief. Cassidy said he would vote against the spending bill if it did not include disaster relief for Louisiana.
“I will not stop trying to get this relief,” Cassidy said in a statement.
Kennedy said the additional funding would “address major housing needs in southwest Louisiana and in communities across the state.”
“Louisianans work hard, but they suffer,” he said. “They shouldn’t be dealing with rebuilding after these historic hurricanes alone. The White House knows this and has not acted.
Regardless of the outcome, Hunter said there’s no scenario where Lake Charles and southwestern Louisiana don’t recover from hurricanes Laura and Delta.
“The road will be longer and a little harder than it should be, but I would take the caliber and character of the people here over a billion dollars from the feds any day of the week” , did he declare. “We will do our best with what we have and find a way.”