WASHINGTON (AP) - House Republicans on Monday unveiled an $81 billion disaster aid package to help hurricane-ravaged communities and states hit by wildfires, almost double the amount requested by President Donald Trump.
GOP leaders promised a vote this week on the measure, which would bring the total provided in response to this year's devastating round of hurricanes to more than $130 billion - exceeding the cost to taxpayers of Hurricane Katrina.
The emergency aid would provide $26 billion for community development block grants, which would help Florida, Texas and the Caribbean rebuild, along with Western states recovering from wildfires. There's funding for prevention of future flooding, highway repairs and help for small businesses. There's almost $28 billion for the government's chief disaster aid account, $4 billion of which could be used to help cash-strapped governments such as Puerto Rico's stay afloat.
"We have a commitment to our fellow citizens that are in the midst of major rebuilding efforts," said Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J., who sponsored the measure. "They deserve our continued support, and we must provide the necessary resources for them to recover from these emergencies."
The package also would provide $2.6 billion for farm disasters. Florida lawmakers have said citrus crops in their state have been suffering.
"It's a big win for Florida's agriculture," said Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Fla.
Last month, Trump requested $44 billion, his third emergency request since hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria slammed the Gulf Coast and Caribbean. The request sparked howls from lawmakers from hurricane-hit states.
"While it was not everything, it was further than the administration proposed," Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, said Monday.
Copyright 2017 The Associated Press.