Abbott, members of Congress ask for $18.7 billion in Harvey relief


One request is $800 million for Texas schools “with unexpected expenses as a result of Hurricane Harvey.”

The governor has estimated that recovery could cost up to $180 billion.

Gov. Greg Abbott and most of Texas’ congressional representatives have requested $18.7 billion in the next round of Hurricane Harvey recovery funds.

“Texas greatly appreciates the Appropriations Committees’ efforts to swiftly provide funds,” the political leaders said in a letter to committee leaders in the House and Senate. “However, in light of the unprecedented damage from Hurricane Harvey and the historically epochal flooding of Houston, Beaumont and surrounding regions, we all recognize that the funding already appropriated is a small fraction of the federal resources needed to help rebuild Texas and reinvigorate the American economy.”

Harvey struck the state’s Gulf Coast on Aug. 25 with sustained winds of 132 mph, devastating coastal and rural communities and leaving large portions of Houston and Beaumont under several feet of water. Abbott has estimated that the recovery could cost up to $180 billion.

The letter said the Office of Management and Budget soon will ask Congress for more recovery money.

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“When considering this request, we ask that the Senate and House committees on appropriations strongly consider a number of additional funding categories, in addition to the FEMA DRF, to help expedite recovery efforts in Texas,” the letter said.

The request includes:

• $10 billion to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to “rehabilitate and repair damages to completed USACE projects and those under construction, to implement authorized projects ready for construction, to dredge federal navigation channels, and for emergency response and recovery operations, repairs, and other activities.”

• $7 billion to the Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery program to contribute to the more than $40 billion Texas is expected to need in funding from the program. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development uses the money after the president declares a major disaster to address unmet long-term recovery needs.

• $800 million for “emergency assistance to educational institutions with unexpected expenses as a result of Hurricane Harvey.”

• $450 million for the U.S. Small Business Administration’s disaster loans program.

• $300 million for the U.S. Economic Development Administration, which “plays a crucial role in facilitating the delivery of economic assistance to local governments for long-term recovery planning, reconstruction and resiliency in response to presidentially declared disasters or emergencies.”

• $150 million for transportation infrastructure.

Three member of Congress did not sign the letter: U.S. Reps. Joe Barton, R-Arlington; Jeb Hensarling, R-Dallas; and Kevin Brady, R-The Woodlands.

A spokesman for Barton said the congressman “generally supports the efforts in the letter but does not traditionally sign on letters to his colleagues in the House.”

A spokeswoman for Hensarling said he is preparing his own letter “to encourage and support further disaster relief for Texas and expects to work with his colleagues to assure that it is forthcoming and used effectively.”

A spokeswoman for Brady said he is “visiting with House leadership about Texas’ needs.”

“I fully support Governor Abbott, and am especially appreciative of Chancellor (John) Sharp’s outreach to our county and community leaders,” Brady said in a statement. “Having led Hurricane Rita recovery efforts in Congress for Texas — and last week secured $5 billion in immediate disaster tax relief for our communities — I’m working to better understand the complete long-term rebuilding needs of our state and how each installment of federal funding fits into it.”

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