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Rubio Introduces Post-Disaster Fairness to States Act

Aug 1, 2017 | Press Releases

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced the Post-Disaster Fairness to States Act (S. 1641), legislation that would place a three year statute of limitation on the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) clawing back funds after the completion of a project following a federally designated disaster. The current statute allows FEMA to recoup disaster funds three years after a disaster has been closed, which can take years, sometimes decades. Rubio’s bill would protect counties, cities, towns, and individual homeowners who receive FEMA disaster funds following a federally designated storm.
“Floridians should not be subjected to permanent uncertainty about when the federal government might claw back support distributed after a disaster,” said Rubio. “Our state has experienced numerous storms since 2004, and although recovery efforts have long been completed, under current law the federal government can take back these funds, sometimes decades later—financially decimating the recipients who relied on them. Closing this loophole will give local officials and homeowners certainty and peace of mind, and ensure they are treated fairly.”
Rubio’s bill ensures entities are unable to benefit from the limitation unless the federal grant’s approved purpose is accomplished, and preserves requirements ensuring recipients of federal resources following a disaster are good stewards of taxpayer dollars. The bill is supported by the Florida Association of Counties.

Many federal disaster designations stemming from hurricanes are still open in Florida, including Frances (2004), Ivan (2004), Jeanne (2004), Charley (2004), Katrina (2005), Dennis (2005), Wilma (2005), Gustav (2008), Isaac (2012), Hermine (2016), and Matthew (2016). 
The Post-Disaster Fairness to States Act would:

  • Amend the Stafford Act to place a three year statute of limitations for FEMA recoupment on the completion of projects. Current law starts the clock after the state closes out the entire storm, which can take years or decades. 
  • Ensure bad faith actors are not captured by the statute—the purpose of the grant must be accomplished to benefit. This is in addition to current prohibition for instances of civil or criminal fraud, abuse or waste.
  • This would not apply to final agency decisions already rendered, per the date of enactment. 
  • Apply a three year statute of limitation for homeowners under the Individual Assistance category, taking effect after January 1, 2012.