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Source: United States House of Representatives – Congresswoman Angie Craig (MN-02)

The bipartisan, bicameral bill now heads to the President’s desk for approval – the third bill Craig will have signed into law during her first term

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bipartisan disaster mitigation bill introduced by U.S. Representatives Angie Craig (D-MN) and Rodney Davis (R-IL) to help communities across the country prepare for and rebuild from extreme weather events. The Safeguarding Tomorrow through Ongoing Risk Mitigation (STORM) Act – the Senate counterpart to Craig and Davis’ Resilience Revolving Loan Fund Act introduced in July of 2019 – would create a low-interest loan program for Minnesota and other states to fund mitigation projects that reduce the risks and costs of natural disasters. The bill is now headed to the President’s desk to be signed into law.

This will be Craig’s third bill signed into law in her first term in Congress – the most of any member of the Minnesota delegation – Republican or Democrat.

Loans would be available for projects that minimize the costs and risks associated with wildfires, earthquakes, floods, storm surges and other events deemed catastrophic by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The program will not only reduce the financial burden of recovery on local governments – but allow communities to invest in resilient infrastructure that can withstand severe weather events and natural disasters.

U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Ron Johnson (R-WI), Ranking Member and Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, introduced the Senate counterpart legislation – which passed the Senate on December 9th by unanimous consent. The bill has received strong support from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Society of Civil Engineers, the Mississippi Rivers Cities and Towns Initiative and several other groups.

“In recent years, cities and towns in the Second District have experienced some of the most devastating flood seasons in recent memory – threatening Minnesotans’ homes, doing severe damage to public property and costing our local communities millions of dollars in recovery efforts,” said Rep. Angie Craig. “I am incredibly proud that our bill – which will soon be signed into law by President Trump – will allow cities like Red Wing, Jordan and Hastings to invest in resilient infrastructure that will not only protect their communities, but also save countless taxpayer dollars in the years to come.”

“Severe weather and catastrophic events cause great strain on local economies and municipal budgets in cities and towns in Illinois like Grafton and many others across the country,” said Rep. Rodney Davis. “Our bipartisan bill will give state and local governments the tools they need to prepare for emergency disasters before they happen. This will protect local economies and taxpayers alike. I’d like to thank Rep. Craig for our partnership on this issue in the House and all of the advocates who helped get this critical legislation passed. I look forward to the president swiftly signing this legislation into law so we can be prepared before the next time disaster strikes.”

“Across our country, extreme weather events made worse by climate change have continued to take a devastating human and economic toll. As these disasters become increasingly frequent and severe, the Federal government must do more to ensure that communities remain resilient,” said Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio. “I thank Congresswoman Craig for understanding this need and introducing H.R. 3779, bipartisan legislation that would create a Federal Emergency Management Agency low-interest loan program for local governments to invest in disaster-resilient infrastructure. Thanks to Congresswoman Craig’s tireless work, this bill passed the House today and the needs of hard-working families, businesses and communities were put first.”

“Wisconsin faces threats of flooding and severe storms year after year, taking a toll on families, businesses, and communities. We need to be giving folks the tools they need to be properly prepared for future disasters,” said Rep. Ron Kind, co-chair of the Mississippi River Caucus. “This legislation will help communities in Wisconsin invest in projects to reduce damage and minimize risks of future floods and other natural disasters. I’m thrilled that this important bill has passed Congress with overwhelming bipartisan support and encourage the President to swiftly sign it into law.”

“Providing cost-effective tools directly to local communities across Michigan is critical to helping them stave off the harmful effects that coastal erosion, flooding and rising water levels have on people’s lives and livelihoods,” said Ranking Member Gary Peters. “I want to thank Congresswoman Craig for leading this bipartisan, commonsense legislation through the House and urge the President to sign it as soon as possible so that we can ensure that Michigan’s coastlines remain safe and pristine for generations to come.”

“Congratulations to Reps. Craig and Davis for their leadership on House passage of the STORM Act,” said Chuck Chaitovitz, Vice President, Environmental Affairs and Sustainability at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “Building smart, modern resilient infrastructure is among the top priorities for the business community. We join with our partners at MRCTI and ASCE in calling on the president to sign the bill in short order.”

“We congratulate Rep. Angie Craig (MN), Rep. Rodney Davis (IL), Rep. Cedric Richmond (LA), Senator Ron Johnson (WI), and Senator Gary Peters (MI) for their championship of this cause. Mayors up and down the Mississippi River throughout the ten-state corridor led on this legislation at the local level.  With our region sustaining the largest and longest floor in US history through 2019 followed by the pandemic, we urge the President to sign this new and innovative solution to our impacts as soon as possible,” urged Mississippi River Cities & Towns Initiative Co-Chair, Sharon Weston Broome, Mayor of Baton Rouge, LA.

“Today, the House of Representatives prioritized legislation that supports resilient infrastructure by passing the bipartisan Resilience Revolving Loan Fund bill, the STORM Act,” said Tom Smith, Executive Director, American Society of Civil Engineers. “ASCE has been proud to partner with bill sponsors Congresswoman Angie Craig and Congressman Rodney Davis to support this legislation, which will help mitigate disasters and record-breaking floods that have occurred along the Mississippi River. The Resilience Revolving Loan Fund is an important step towards improving resilience and planning for communities across the country. We urge President Trump to quickly sign this critical legislation into law so communities can get the resources they need to prepare, adapt and mitigate, and to quickly recover from the next catastrophic storm.”

Currently, only one FEMA program provides communities with resources to implement proactive efforts to prevent future damage and that program is restrictive in its eligible activities. The new revolving loan fund would allow states to bring low-interest loans to counties and cities for disaster mitigation projects of varying types that creates the flexibility local governments need to respond to mounting disaster impacts. Repayment of the loans would fund subsequent projects. The legislation is modeled, in part, after the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) program, a successful federal-state partnership to help ensure safe drinking water in the United States.

The 2019 January-May period was the wettest on record for the U.S., causing communities along the Mississippi River to incur severe costs in damages. The widespread flooding damaged homes, temporarily displaced families and delayed farmers’ planting season. In response, local mayors and community leaders expressed the need for proactive investment in flood plain mapping, levees, water treatment plants, port protection and other critical infrastructure as the severity of natural disasters increases. The STORM Act, which now heads to the President’s desk for final approval, would provide funding for those and other programs – saving city and county governments millions of dollars over time.