INTRODUCTION OF THE ``WHATEVER IT TAKES TO REBUILD ACT OF 2008'' -- (House of Representatives - February 23, 2009)
Mrs. MALONEY. Madam Speaker, today I am reintroducing the ``Whatever it Takes to Rebuild Act''.
A disaster can leave the tax base of an affected community eroded, necessitating Federal assistance to pay for essential services. These essential services, including police, fire, and school personnel, are even more critical in the wake of a disaster. To aid communities, Congress created the Community Disaster Loan Program. While this program has worked with great success, there are two significant issues that need to be fixed. The first issue is that this assistance is delivered in the form of a loan and the second is that any loan is limited to $5 million. Providing this aid as a loan can further delay the recovery of a local community and the $5 million cap does not allow for adequate assistance for medium or large communities.
The ``Whatever It Takes to Rebuild Act'' would repeal the requirement that disaster affected communities epay the assistance they receive under the Community Disaster Loan Program. This legislation would permanently repeal the $5 million cap on these loans, would make states eligible for this assistance, repeal the cap that limits loans to 25 percent of a municipalities operating expenses, and would provide this assistance as grants when the President waives the provisions for a catastrophic event. All of these provisions are aimed at giving the Federal Government the tools and flexibility we need to fully respond following a disaster.
This program was used most recently immediately following Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. While it was able to provide significant benefits, repayment requirements have raised significant hurdles for many recipient communities. In the wake of a disaster, the government should give American communities the financial assistance they need to get back on their feet with no strings attached. That is why I am reintroducing the ``Whatever It Takes to Rebuild Act.''