Saturday, April 13, 2024

Kennedy’s $1.1B hurricane relief amendment fails in U.S. Senate

by BIZ Magazine

By William Patrick | The Center Square

U.S. Sen. John Kennedy’s latest attempt to secure disaster relief money for southwest Louisiana was denied after a $1.1 billion funding request was voted down in the U.S. Senate.

The event marked the eighth time Kennedy, a Louisiana Republican, tried and failed to deliver disaster aid since last year’s barrage of hurricanes caused tens of billions of dollars in property damage.

“[Wednesday], I gave the Senate an opportunity to help SWLA without adding a dime to the debt, and I’m incredibly disappointed they chose not to do that,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy had proposed an amendment to the recently brokered Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, a trillion-dollar bill he voted against moving forward last week because he wanted to continue debate, a spokesperson said. The amendment was one of 300 filed by senators as of Wednesday afternoon.

“My people are tough, but they are tired,” he said on the Senate floor. “This amendment would appropriate $1.1 billion in community development block grants to help my people recover.”

The proposal was offered with support from Sen. Bill Cassidy, the state’s other U.S. senator.

Cassidy, a Republican, helped negotiate the massive infrastructure agreement and has joined both Kennedy and Louisiana’s bipartisan congressional delegation in petitioning executive branch agencies for hurricane relief.

“The last 18 months have been challenging for Louisiana,” Kennedy said Wednesday. “First there was Hurricane Laura, then there was Hurricane Delta, then Hurricane Zeta. Those hurricanes did about $25 billion in damage. Then, we had historic freezes and then we had historic flooding.”

Relief aid is routinely appropriated after a natural disaster, but the process begins with a request for supplemental aid from the president. That has not occurred, leaving Kennedy to seek a legislative solution.

The failed amendment would have allocated revenue from the Federal Communications Commission’s spectrum auction, which purportedly raised $80 billion last year.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development would distribute the funding through the state’s Community Development Block Grant program to assist communities and neighborhoods with recovery needs.

The final vote was 79-19 against the amendment. Both Democratic senators from Georgia voted for the amendment.

With the infrastructure amendment now dashed, Kennedy is shifting focus to the White House.

“It’s clear once again that President Biden must send a request for this disaster aid to Congress in order for Washington to grant disaster aid for Louisiana,” he said.

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