Following days of negotiations with U.S. Senate leaders, Mark Udall and Michael Bennet announced today that a proposal to raise a cap on the amount of emergency transportation funds Colorado can access to repair the state's flood-damaged roads, bridges and highways will be included in the Senate's bipartisan bill to avert a default and reopen the federal government. The language in the deal mirrors legislation authored by Udall and Bennet that the U.S. Senate passed late last month in the wake of floods that destroyed roads and bridges along the Front Range and into the foothills. However, the bill died after the U.S. House of Representatives failed to take it up.
"Colorado has shown our nation that we are better when we stand united to confront natural disasters and rebuild better, stronger and smarter than before. I am proud the Republican and Democratic leaders of the U.S. Senate agreed to include this language in the bipartisan deal making its way through the chamber now," Udall said. "Colorado cannot wait any longer for this arbitrary cap to be lifted, for Congress to avert a government default or for this partisan government shutdown to end. This is a welcome development for the Centennial State, and I am proud to have been able to shepherd this critical relief through Congress."
"While Washington has been shut down, Coloradans have been working hard to rebuild and recover from last month's devastating floods that left a wake of destruction in our state," Bennet said. "Lifting this cap removes an important political roadblock, and will make available crucial resources we need to get people moving around the state again. Coloradans have been resilient and patient, but it's time to let us get to work so we can repair and reopen key access routes to communities affected by the floods."
Current law restricts access to a large portion of emergency road funds administered by the U.S. Federal Highway Administration to $100 million per disaster. The governor and the Colorado Department of Transportation have estimated that the damage resulting from the recent historic flooding will far exceed the current cap. The legislation lifts the cap to $450 million, sufficient to cover the extensive repair work.
Udall, Bennet and Colorado's members of the U.S. House of Representatives have worked since the flooding began to ensure Colorado communities and agencies have every federal resource they need to save lives, protect homes and start the recovery process. Udall and Bennet led a recent delegation effort to urge the House and Senate Appropriations Committees to make crucial resources available to help Colorado recover from the recent historic floods.