Press Releases

Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher Passes First Original Bill: HELP Act to Expedite Recovery Process After Disasters

Washington, December 17, 2019

(Washington, DC) – Today, Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher (TX-07) secured passage of H.R. 2548, the Hazard Eligibility and Local Projects (HELP) Act, through the House of Representatives, the first original bill she filed in Congress, with bipartisan support, 409 to 7.

With bipartisan support from original co-sponsors Representatives Pete Olson (TX-22), G.K. Butterfield (NC-01), and Mark Meadows (NC-11), Congresswoman Fletcher drafted the HELP Act to help municipalities and local agencies expedite certain disaster mitigation projects by removing unnecessary delays and streamlining the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) hazard mitigation grant program.  The bill now moves to the United States Senate.

“I am proud of the HELP Act and all it represents—bipartisan, common-sense, meaningful legislation born out of a partnership with my district that will benefit all Americans,” said Congresswoman Fletcher.  “By allowing certain disaster mitigation and recovery projects to begin more quickly without jeopardizing potential federal funding, theHELP Act provides a straightforward solution to a real problem that will have a meaningful impact at home and across the country.  I thank my colleagues for joining with me to make this improvement to the disaster recovery process, and I look forward to our next collaboration.”

“In the aftermath of natural disasters like Hurricane Harvey, government should not be an obstruction to recovery,” said Congressman Olson.  “No one should be forced to delay recovery under unsafe conditions due to bureaucratic red tape.  The HELP Act eliminates needless federal regulations so that homes, businesses and infrastructure impacted by devastation are put on the fast track to recovery.  I’m thrilled that the House passed our bipartisan bill today.  I urge the Senate to act quickly as well.”

“Recovery from disasters can be a long and painful process—something North Carolina unfortunately knows all too well.  Congress has a responsibility to help state and local governments in North Carolina and across the country offer recovery assistance to their communities as quickly as possible and to prepare them to withstand the next disaster,” said Congressman Butterfield.  “H.R. 2548 makes common-sense changes to mitigation assistance provided by the federal government to streamline the process and get help to communities in need quicker.  I’m proud to be an original cosponsor of H.R. 2548 and happy to see it pass the House of Representatives today.  I encourage my Senate colleagues to take up the bill quickly and send it to the President’s desk to be signed into law.”

“FEMA’s policy of potentially disqualifying grant applicants because they move forward with recovery projects isn’t what our constituents expect, especially in response to a disaster,” said City of Houston Chief Recovery OfficerSteve Costello. “Working together at all levels of government, need to cut delays in project delivery.  This is one small fix that will bring lasting change to our region.”

“The Harris County Flood Control District greatly appreciates Congresswoman Fletcher's efforts to shorten the time that flood victims must wait for relief.  Her bill, the Hazard Eligibility and Local Projects Act, H.R. 2548, will shorten the time we must wait for final approval to begin work using FEMA funds,” said Harris County Flood Control District Executive Director Russ Poppe.  This is exactly the type of improvement we need to help us recover more quickly and make our community more resilient before the next storm comes through.”

The HELP Act will allow certain eligible disaster mitigation projects to begin without the risk of losing potential federal funds.  It represents a change to the current law’s one-size-fits-all approach to reviewing projects that frequently delays mitigation work.

The bill was co-sponsored by Representatives Colin Allred (TX-32), Dan Crenshaw (TX-02), Henry Cuellar (TX-28), John Garamendi (CA-03), Sylvia Garcia (TX-29), Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon (PR-At Large), Al Green (TX-09), Denny Heck (WA-10), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30), Tom Malinowski (NJ-07), Michael McCaul (TX-10), Harley Rouda (CA-48), and Filemon Vela (TX-34).

You can watch the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee mark-up of the HELP Act here.

You can watch the Congresswoman’s floor speech on the bill here.

You can watch Congressman Mark Meadows’ floor speech on the bill here.