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Schatz Seeks More Money For Maui, Other Impacted Communities

The Hawaii senator says the funding needs caused by the Lahaina wildfires remain "enormous."

Hawaii’s senior U.S. senator spoke on the Senate floor Wednesday to ask Congress for additional disaster relief funding for Maui and other disaster-impacted communities nationwide.

“Eight months on from the devastating fires on Maui, the needs remain enormous,” he said. “Thousands of people are still living out of hotels and vacation rentals, unable to rebuild their lives. Roads and water systems have yet to be repaired. Small businesses and their employees continue to struggle without tourism.”

He continued: “For Lahaina to recover, thousands of homes will need to be rebuilt. Critical infrastructure will need to be restored. Businesses will need to get up and running again. So Congress needs to step up and help here.”

Schatz said the disaster relief funding could come through the Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery program, as President Joe Biden requested in a supplemental budget request six months ago.

In late October the White House asked lawmakers for about $56 billion in emergency spending to respond to natural disasters as well as fund child care centers and high-speed internet services for low-income families. About $23 billion would be for disaster relief.

But the total package of about $100 billion includes money for Ukraine, Israel and border enforcement, which passed the Senate but has stalled in the House.

“We’ve waited a long time, but we can’t wait any longer,” said Schatz. “The disasters keep piling up, and with them, the urgent needs of survivors.”

The senator listed other states that he said had been struck by disasters including Florida, California, Illinois, Indiana and Tennessee. It also includes Maryland, where the recent collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore killed six people.

Schatz said disaster relief is a bipartisan issue.

“Because people on both sides of the aisle have recognized, rightly, that disasters don’t discriminate between red states and blue,:” he said. “Accidents don’t pick and choose their victims. Every community that has had the misfortune of being struck by disaster needs and deserves help.”