Congress Passes Gulf Recovery Act

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee passed the Gulf Recovery Act last week, viewed as a crucial step to helping local governments and storm victims.

The bill allows the president to provide assistance to financially distressed state and local governments to cover base pay and overtime for essential response and recovery personnel. The measure also allows governments to receive loans up to 50 percent of their budget. Current law caps the loans at 25 percent.

In addition, the legislation extends the eligible period of disaster unemployment assistance from 26 weeks to 52 weeks from the date of Hurricane Katrina or Rita.

The bill also amends the Stafford Act to create a new grant program for state and local governments to improve interoperability of emergency communications systems. The program is authorized at $600 million over three years.

"The vote marks one of the most meaningful actions taken in Congress to help the victims of hurricane disasters and to help local authorities tackle Louisiana's recovery," U.S. Rep. Richard Baker, R-Baton Rouge, a member of the committee, said in a statement.

The legislation could result in Louisiana getting $4 billion, said U.S. Rep. Bobby Jindal, R-Kenner.

Also, Jindal introduced legislation that would temporarily eliminate federal income tax for hurricane victims. (click here)

"Too many people in Louisiana have had their lives uprooted by these tragedies," Jindal said. "Too many people are still struggling to make ends meet and put their lives back together."

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Congress Passes Gulf Recovery Act



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