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Source: United States House of Representatives – Congressman Sam Graves (6th District of Missouri)

WASHINGTON D.C. — Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed Congressman Sam Graves’ (MO-06) bipartisan bill to stop the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) from clawing back assistance mistakenly awarded to disaster victims that applied for it in good faith.

The Preventing Disaster Revictimization Act (H.R. 5953) updates current law by requiring FEMA to waive the debt of someone who received FEMA assistance, in cases where no fraud has been committed, after the agency later determines it mistakenly granted the assistance.  Under the current process, FEMA can come back weeks, months, or even years later to seek repayment of funds it awarded victims, even when the agency made the initial error. 

“Revictimizing those who have already been devastated is unthinkable and this bill puts a stop to it,” said Rep. Graves.  “If FEMA makes a mistake, the disaster victims that they are supposed to be helping should not have to pay for it. It happened last year in North Missouri, but this bill ensures it doesn’t happen again. We owe this certainty to disaster victims, and I’m thrilled that the Preventing Disaster Revictimization Act passed the House today.”

Graves introduced the bill after a Holt County resident, who lost his family home to the 2019 flooding, was mistakenly provided over $12,000 in FEMA Individual Assistance money to help him get back on his feet, only to be told later he didn’t qualify and would have to pay it back.

The bill also ensures that FEMA reports to Congress on the number of mistakes it makes in individual assistance award determinations and the agency’s efforts to minimize similar errors in the future.

Click here to see Rep Graves’ remarks on the bill on the House floor.

Click here to read the original bill.