The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has nearly depleted the resources of its Disaster Relief Fund, and Congress is currently in a battle over how its coffers should be refilled, The Washington Post reports.
As several States are in the midst of Presidentially declared disaster in the wake of Hurricane Irene and wildfires are blazing across much of Texas, the Federal government is at odds about how it will continue to fund the mammoth disaster response agency.
Democrats in the Senate on Tuesday proposed spending $6 billion to replenish the Disaster Relief Fund, a program used to reimburse local governments and individuals for disaster-related cleanup and repairs. Republicans proposed a funding measure in June that allocated just over half of that amount for the FEMA fund.
The question remains for many concerned about the Federal government’s rising debt: Where will the money come from in the first place?
Many lawmakers argue that the funding must be presented through cuts to other government entities. Others say that even though it would be a breach of discretionary spending limits agreed to in last month’s debt deal, FEMA should qualify as an emergency expenditure.
According to The Post, the White House expects Irene-related disaster expenses to total around $1.5 billion, a figure to be added to $5.2 billion in backlogged needs the Administration of President Barack Obama said FEMA has accrued from previous disasters.
FEMA drew heavy criticism from 2012 GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul, who referred to the agency as a disaster in itself, according to a recent Fox News interview.
“We’ve conditioned our people that FEMA will take care of us and everything will be okay, but you try to make these programs work the best you can, but you can’t just keep saying, ‘Oh, they need money,’ … Well, we’re out of money, this country is bankrupt," he said.