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Biden asks Congress for nearly $30 billion in disaster aid for Florida, Puerto Rico

Miami Herald logo Miami Herald 11/19/2022 Bianca Padró Ocasio, Miami Herald
President Joe Biden, right, and first lady Jill Biden, not pictured, touched down on the runway of Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Myers, Florida. © Al Diaz/Miami Herald/TNS President Joe Biden, right, and first lady Jill Biden, not pictured, touched down on the runway of Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Myers, Florida.

MIAMI — President Joe Biden is asking Congress to allocate more than $37 billion in aid for Florida, Puerto Rico and other parts of the country recently affected by natural disasters, less than two weeks before the official end of the 2022 hurricane season.

The Biden administration’s push for disaster relief comes alongside its recent request for additional COVID-19 funds and aid to Ukraine, as Congress reconvenes to pass a spending bill to fund the U.S. government for the rest of the fiscal year by Dec. 16.

“The president has visited many of these communities in recent months, including parts of Florida and Puerto Rico that have been devastated by Hurricanes Ian and Fiona,” said Dhara Nayyar, White House regional communications director. “We need to help our communities recover and rebuild from extreme weather events and natural disasters.”

The aid for Florida and Puerto Rico, about $29.6 billion, would include funding to compensate farmers for damaged crops, assist fisheries impacted by Hurricanes Fiona and Ian, fix road and bridge damage and provide social services. It includes about $3.1 billion in grants and direct assistance for Puerto Rico’s energy grid.

The largest portion is a proposed $15 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency to fund “ongoing response and short- to medium-term recovery efforts” and payments to National Flood Insurance Program policyholders.

The requested disaster aid would include money for other natural disasters, including flood relief for Kentucky, and damage relief for Alaska after former typhoon Merbok hit in September.

Hurricane Ian hit Florida on Sept. 28, mostly affecting the southwestern part of the state and bringing life-threatening floods into Central Florida. Hurricane Fiona, meanwhile, made landfall in Puerto Rico on Sept. 18.

©2022 Miami Herald. Visit miamiherald.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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