STATEMENTS ON INTRODUCED BILLS AND JOINT RESOLUTIONS
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By Ms. LANDRIEU:
S. 2299. A bill to amend the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act to restore Federal aid for the repair, restoration, and replacement of private nonprofit educational facilities that are damaged or destroyed by a major disaster; to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.
Ms. LANDRIEU. Mr. President, I rise provide a bit of background regarding legislation that I am introducing today. The bill that I am sending to the desk would provide independent colleges and universities with direct, immediate aid through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA. Additionally, the bill would assist the recovery of non-profit education institutions from the extensive damage they sustain during natural disasters.
During crises, the critical role that small colleges and universities play in our communities is often overlooked or underestimated. In Louisiana, many of our colleges and universities are not only important in educating our students, but also in bolstering our economy.
In my home State, this legislation would benefit Delgado Community College, Dillard University, Loyola University New Orleans, Nunez Community College, Our Lady of Holy Cross College, Southern University at New Orleans, Sowela Technical Community College, Tulane University of Louisiana, University of New Orleans, McNeese State University and Xavier University of Louisiana.
Under current law, ``education'' has been omitted from the list of ``critical services'' for which facility repair assistance can be awarded directly and immediately. Until 2000, when Congress changed the law, education was always eligible for direct FEMA assistance for facility damages. This legislation simply restores education to its rightful position as a recognized critical service.
This is the only place in Federal law governing disaster assistance that makes this distinction between non-profit and public colleges and universities. This equity must be restored. This legislation is not a demand for the start of a new program, but the restoration of these institutions long-held position under Federal law.
Recent media reports in the New York Times and USA Today have featured stories depicting the massive backlog of applications for aid options for those institutions not eligible for immediate, direct FEMA assistance. When disasters strike these institutions, which often already have limited resources, they incur an extensive range of costs for which they cannot secure any immediate Federal reimbursement or resources. These institutions cannot afford to lose a semester and neither can their students. They should be able to go directly to FEMA immediately, just as others do.
Congressman KENDRICK MEEK introduced a companion bill, H.R. 4517, in December and I look forward to working with him on this legislation. Our colleges and universities are something we cannot afford to ignore and they are vital to rebuilding the State of Louisiana. I hope that my colleagues will come together in support of this important legislation to support our colleges and universities in this time of need.