Biden Administration Asks Congress for Funds for Ida, Afghans

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The White House on Tuesday asked Congress to approve billions in spending to address the ongoing crises created by the disastrous Category 4 Hurricane Ida and the Afghan refugee crisis in the aftermath of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The request came after a bipartisan delegation of Louisiana congressmen asked the president in a Sept. 2 letter for emergency federal aid.

The delegation—consisting of Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Reps. Clay Higgins (R-La.), Steve Scalise (R-La.), Mike Johnson (R-La.), Garret Graves (R-La.), Julia Letlow (R-La.) and Troy Carter (D-La.)—said in the letter, “We are writing you now to alert you to the need for Congress to provide emergency supplemental appropriations to address Hurricane Ida and [other] storms from last year, as was done following Hurricane Katrina. Without substantial and robust appropriations from Congress … Louisiana families will continue to languish as a result of these devastating storms.”

In response, the White House has set a target of $24 billion in funding to deal with continuing problems in Louisiana and other affected states.

Shalanda Young, acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, proposed that the funding be put into a stopgap bill. In the midst of heated intra-party debates over Sen. Bernie Sanders’s $3.5 trillion budget proposal, Young wrote that “it’s clear” that Congress will need more time to put together a comprehensive budget for 2022.

The stopgap measure would essentially provide funding immediately without needing to be part of the larger budget bill.

In the immediate aftermath of the storm, more than one million Louisianans were without power. Over a week after Louisiana was battered by Ida, recorded that more than 400,000 people are still without power.

Analysts have also catalogued the extremely high cost of Ida. Joel Myers, a founder and executive of Accuweather, estimated a huge $95 billion in damage from the storm. Moody’s chief economist Mark Zandi has estimated that the damage to physical infrastructure—property, buildings, and public infrastructure like roads and bridges—is near $50 billion.

By Joseph Lord

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