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Democrats Challenge Bush To Take Action During His Visit To The Gulf Coast

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March 01, 2007
Thu, 03/01/2007 - 12:00am -- 1brightstar

WASHINGTON, DC - House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn and his Democratic colleagues today challenged President Bush to take real action during his tour of the Gulf Coast, and agree to sign legislation moving quickly through the House to waive the local matching fund requirements under federal aid regulation. Clyburn held a press conference following the most-recent in a series of meetings with members of the Gulf Coast, Democratic Leadership and Committee Chairmen to address disaster response needs in the region.

"We ask that the president do more than just tour the still-devastated region, and take photos with the local residents and officials still struggling to rebuild and recover, we ask that he take meaningful action and agree to sign the legislation we send to him to waive the local matching funds on federal disaster assistance," said Clyburn. "We've waived these requirements for the victims of other hurricane disasters and for the victims of the 9/11 attacks, why not for the largest natural disaster in our nation's history?"

Clyburn referenced two pieces of legislation. The first, introduced by Clyburn himself, the Hurricane Katrina and Rita Federal Match Relief Act of 2007, waives
the 25 percent local funding match required under the Stafford Act and cancels the required repayment of Community Disaster Loans. The bill simply allows local officials to access money already appropriated without having to provide a local match. The legislation is budget-neutral. The language is expected to be included in the emergency supplemental bill.

The second, introduced by Maxine Waters, Chairwoman of the Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity,
H.R. 1227, the Gulf Coast Hurricane Housing Recovery Act of 2007 does several things:

° Provides a guaranteed right of return for public housing residents.

° Extends the Disaster Voucher Program to 2008

° Directs HUD to offer families/individuals that were displaced by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita diverse and immediate housing options.

° Directs Congress to increase, and direct more assistance to displaced renters and public housing residents.

° Links rental assistance to the expansion of personal housing opportunities for renters and target owners of rental properties by giving them the ability to rebuild and be made whole.

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