Congress is expected to recess Friday for six weeks and that flood relief bill is not likely to go to a vote beforehand. Iowa Senator Tom Harkin says it’s not urgent to pass that follow-up measure as two-point-six billion dollars was already appropriated earlier this month.
Harkin says that included 300-million for community development block grants and 100-million for economic development assistance. "That money is still there," Harkin says, "In fact, some of that 300-million still hasn’t even been used yet for housing and other purposes in the community development block grants."
The upcoming package includes money for home repairs and buyouts, debris removal, water and sewer repairs, help for small businesses and to repair damaged facilities. The aid would also include investments to reduce future disaster damage.
Harkin says the first big appropriation of money will cover flood recovery efforts in Iowa and elsewhere in the Midwest until Congress can vote on the next measure, sometime after Labor Day. "I am disappointed we didn’t get the second supplemental (bill) done before we left here. I am comforted somewhat by the fact that the initial 2.65-billion dollars — that money is still there and available and can be used during August and September."
Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley is among the Republicans who have been critical of Democratic congressional leaders for "slow-walking" this latest flood relief bill but Harkin, a Democrat, deflects the barbs.
"We put 2.65-billion dollars in it in July immediately and that money hasn’t been used yet," Harkin says. "It’s not the Democratic congress holding that up, it’s the administration getting the money out there for community development block grants, getting the money out there for (economic development assistance), getting the money out there for FEMA."
He notes that spending bills are still being passed for the recovery of Hurricane Katrina which hit the Gulf Coast in 2005.