Hyde-Smith-backed disaster relief bill fails to pass House


Disaster relief legislation that was backed by U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith and passed by an overwhelming majority of the Senate this week failed to pass the U.S. House of Representatives due to a lone objection.

Chip Roy, a Texas congressman and Republican offered his objection to the $19 billion disaster relief bill that would have sent billions in aid to the Mississippi Delta region.

Much of that would have benefited the farmers in the South Delta region affected by the Yazoo backwater flooding, but millions would have also gone to farmers elsewhere, according the Hyde-Smith’s office.

Roy gave his reasons on the House floor late this week after the Senate overwhelmingly passed the legislation 85-8.

Roy said the bill was not funded, according to Fox News, and he also objected to the legislation not including $4.5 billion requested by President Donald Trump for border security, the report said.

The report said it could be next month before any extra disaster aid could come from the federal level.

According to Hyde-Smith’s office, the following is a list of how the $19 billion would have affected Mississippi directly.

Ariculture, Rural Development, FDA, and Related Agencies

Farm Disaster Assistance – $3.0 billion to assist producers who experienced losses stemming from natural disasters in 2018 and 2019.

Benefit to Mississippi: 

Covers the 225,000 flooded acres within the Yazoo Backwater Area and elsewhere that cannot be planted in 2019 due to flooding or excessive rainfall.

Covers losses associated with damage to on-farm stored commodities as result of 2019 flooding.

Allows the Secretary of Agriculture to provide assistance in the form of block grants to eligible states, which may include compensation for forestry restoration, poultry, and livestock losses.

Emergency Forest Restoration Program – Provides funding for necessary expenses related to floods and tornadoes in 2019.  This is important to Mississippi because forested areas in the South Delta that have been under water for months may be lost, and because tornadoes and flooding in other parts of Mississippi caused substantial damage to private forestland.

Additional USDA Aid – Provides significant USDA funding for the Emergency Conservation Program, Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations, and Rural Community Facilities Program to cover expenses related to tornadoes and floods in 2019.

Energy and Water Development

Mississippi River and Tributaries (MR&T) – $575 million in the MR&T account and $908 million in operation and maintenance funding to support emergency repairs and rehabilitation of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects damaged by natural disasters.

Benefit to Mississippi:

The Mississippi River has been above flood stage for more than 100 days.  Repairs to hundreds of miles of mainline and backwater levees will be necessary, as well as repairs to flood control reservoirs, silted in ports, and related damages.

The measure also provides emergency funding for other federal agencies with disaster relief responsibilities, Hyde-Smith's office said.

The following are links to the legislative text and summary for the disaster supplemental:

Disaster Supplemental Text

Disaster Supplemental Summary


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