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Hurricane Laura threatens Trump's promised unemployment benefits

Hurricane Laura could even more quickly end the temporary $ 300 bonus to unemployment benefits approved by US President Donald Trump. Writes about it CBS News.

Photo: Shutterstock

On August 8, the President signed a decree on the introduction of an additional weekly federal payment unemployment in the amount of $ 400 per week.

In accordance with the presidential decree, the costs of $ 100 per week are to be borne by the states, and $ 300 by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Thus, the total amount of payments to the unemployed will be $ 400 per week.

It was planned that if all states applied for help, payments would last about a month, given the capabilities of the FEMA fund. But Hurricane Laura could cut payout times by an entire week. And if you add to this the recent damage from other natural disasters (the storm in Iowa in mid-August and wildfires in California), then the money may be enough for a shorter period.

“We're just approaching the height of the hurricane season. If these storms are catastrophic, the additional financial strain associated with emergency unemployment assistance means the money will be spent quickly and Congress will have to find a way to get those funds back to FEMA, ”said Lars Anderson, a former Federal Emergency Management Agency official under the administration. Obama.

The additional $ 300 in addition to weekly unemployment benefits is intended to help the 27 million Americans who are currently receiving unemployment benefits that cover only a fraction of a worker's normal income.

On the subject: Trump premium: which states will add $ 300 to unemployment benefits

But unlike the $ 600 CARES bill, Trump's $ 300 bailout was approved by government decree, not Congress. Without congressional approval, the president was forced to use FEMA to make payments.

Trump's executive order states that payments will end when the FEMA fund balance drops to $ 25 billion. Congressional Democrats have calculated that payments would cost about $ 10 billion weekly if each state participates in the program. Reached the $ 25 billion mark in about 4 weeks.

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards predicts the hurricane will be a "big, powerful storm" similar in size and duration to Hurricane Rita, which caused $ 2005 billion in property damage to Texas and Louisiana in 25.

The FEMA Disaster Fund has disbursed approximately $ 50 billion in total aid in response to Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma, according to the U.S. Congressional Research Service. Katrina is by far the most powerful of the three hurricanes, causing property damage about four times as much as Rita.

As of the end of July, FEMA had $ 68 billion in funding, according to the fund's latest monthly report. That was before Iowa turned to FEMA for nearly $ 4 billion in storm relief.

In addition to hurricanes, there are also forest fires in California. In 2017, FEMA allocated nearly $ 2 billion to combat the fire element in this state. Acres burned this year surpassed all of 2017, with four months remaining in the wildfire season. FEMA has already said it will help cover the cost of fighting fires this year, but did not specify how much it plans to spend in California overall.

“There is no doubt that COVID-19, combined with disaster response missions, is devastating the FEMA Foundation,” said former Trump FEMA Director Brock Long, who led the agency from 2017 to 2019 and is now executive chairman of Hagerty.

On the subject: Category 4 hurricane Laura hit the USA: video report on how it was

“I am confident that if necessary, all parties will sit down at the negotiating table and provide the agency with the additional resources needed to continue serving those in need across the country,” added Long.

But others have a slightly different position. Say Evan Hollander, director of Democratic relations at the House Appropriations Committee, said that while Democrats never voted against disaster funding, it was "outrageous" that Trump had drained FEMA.

If FEMA runs out of funds, other aid could be cut if FEMA runs out of funds, said Barry Scanlon, who was a senior FEMA official under Bill Clinton and is now president of consulting firm DCMC. While the agency has more than enough money to deal with the initial damage from Hurricane Laura, other projects, such as the ongoing recovery efforts in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria in 2017, could be scaled back.

Scanlon, who works with state and city governments, said local officials were told not to count on additional funding for coronavirus security measures.

"The FEMA disaster fund may run out of money at some point, and the Trump administration is using FEMA for an unconventional purpose," Scanlon said. "The fund, which is designed to provide citizens with food, water, housing and construction, is largely politicized."

Read also on ForumDaily:

Aftermath of Hurricane Laura: Large Fire Starts at a Chemical Plant in Louisiana

Hurricane protection: will insurance cover disaster damage

Fires and hurricanes: how to prepare for an emergency evacuation

'Extremely Active': Meteorologists Release New Hurricane Season Forecast

Why tornadoes often occur after a hurricane lands on land

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