(Washington, DC) – Congressman Doug LaMalfa (R-Richvale) issued the following statement after the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure approved his bill, the Preventing Disaster Revictimization Act. This bipartisan bill will prevent the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) from seeking reimbursement from Pacific, Gas, and Electric’s (PG&E) $13.5 billion fund that was originally set aside for wildfire victims.
Rep. LaMalfa said, “No disaster victim should be subject to the government raiding their disaster compensation and obstructing their recovery efforts. The Preventing Disaster Revictimization Act will ensure that no disaster victim will have their compensation stripped from them by the federal government under the guise of reimbursement.”
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Ranking Member Sam Graves (R-MO), who sponsored H.R. 539 with LaMalfa, said, “The Preventing Disaster Revictimization Act will ensure disaster victims trying to recover and rebuild their lives, homes, and businesses aren’t revictimized because of a federal agency’s error.”
The bipartisan H.R. 539 will prevent FEMA from taking back disaster assistance funds that it mistakenly awarded to victims who applied for assistance in good faith and utilized that money to help rebuild their lives. The bill requires FEMA to waive the debt of disaster relief recipients in cases where the agency later determined it mistakenly granted assistance, but no fraud was committed. Under current law, FEMA can come back weeks, months, or even years later to seek repayment of funds it awarded victims, even when the agency is at fault for making the error and the funds were appropriately used in the wake of a disaster. The bill also ensures that FEMA reports to Congress on its efforts to minimize similar errors in the future.
The bill passed the committee by voice vote and now awaits action on the House floor.
Congressman Doug LaMalfa is a lifelong farmer representing California’s First Congressional District, including Butte, Glenn, Lassen, Modoc, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou and Tehama Counties.