U.S. Senator Mark Pryor today said he was pleased with actions taken by Secretary Tim Geithner and his team at the Department of the Treasury and for their good-faith efforts to resolve a problem an Arkansas couple is having with FEMA and the Treasury regarding disaster assistance that FEMA erroneously distributed to them three years ago.
The Treasury has agreed to immediately stop all collection efforts until a final resolution has been reached and has worked with Pryor to expedite a review of their information with the goal of compromising their debt in addition to all penalties, interest and fees. In addition, the Secretary has personally committed to finding a swift and satisfactory resolution. Because of these actions, Pryor agreed to lift holds on two of the seven pending Treasury nominees. He will continue to hold the remaining five until the matter is concluded.
"Secretary Geithner and I talked early Thursday morning, and his team worked on the problem all day with FEMA and the Guglielmanas. He has taken action and made a good-faith effort to resolve this situation quickly and fairly. In fact, more progress was made during the day than in the past eight months I've spent dealing with FEMA. In the same spirit of cooperation, I allowed two Treasury Department nominations to move forward so they could be confirmed by the Senate this week. I will continue to hold the remaining five nominees until this process is complete," Pryor said. "I appreciate Treasury's can-do approach, and I look forward to a resolution shortly."
The Guglielmana family of Mountain View, Arkansas are victims of a FEMA error. In 2008, after completing an extensive application process and home inspection, FEMA approved $27,000 in disaster assistance for their home repairs. In March 2011, FEMA informed them that they were never eligible for assistance because they live in a county that does not participate in the National Flood Insurance Program. FEMA warned that they must repay the funds within 30 days or face high interest charges or other collection actions. After failing to pay, FEMA sent the debt to the Department of the Treasury for collections. An additional $10,000 was added for penalties, fees and interest.