WASHINGTON, D.C. — Oregon's U.S. Senator Ron Wyden announced Monday that he is co-sponsoring a bill intended to speed the delivery of federal aid for communities impacted by disasters like the September 2020 wildfires that devastated southern Oregon.
“Oregonians struggling to put their lives back together after a wildfire or other disaster deserve the smoothest possible path for the federal response that’s needed to help them with a recovery,” Wyden said in a statement. “The Reforming Disaster Recovery Act would iron out the bureaucratic obstacles that have unnecessarily slowed communities’ ability to rebuild low-income housing and take other steps needed so urgently after disaster strikes.”
The bill primarily targets policies at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), with the goal of establishing "a permanent and predictable funding process," Wyden's office said.
If passed, the bill would create a disaster recovery fund to allow HUD to send out funding before Congress acts on each event. It would also authorize HUD to issue regulations for reducing red tape, delays, and unpredictability stemming from the Federal Register notice process.
Wyden's office said that the bill would also support resilience as part of disaster recovery, authorize "quick release" funds to support grantee capacity right after a disaster event, and reduce unnecessary administrative burdens and interagency requirement conflicts.
The bill was introduced by U.S. Senators Brian Schatz of Hawaii, Susan Collins of Maine, Todd Young of Indiana, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana — two Democrats and three Republicans.