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Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher’s Bipartisan HELP Act Passes Congress

HELP Act Was the First Bill Introduced by Fletcher; Helps Expedite Recovery Process After Disaster

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher (TX-07) secured passage of H.R. 1917, the Hazard Eligibility and Local Projects (HELP) Act, through the House of Representatives, with bipartisan support, 409-16.  The HELP Act eliminates unnecessary bureaucratic delays to beginning recovery projects by allowing certain eligible disaster mitigation projects to begin without the risk of losing potential federal funds. The bill now moves to the United States Senate, where is it one step closer to becoming law. 

“In Houston, we know disaster recovery can be a prolonged, years-long process,” said Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher.  “By allowing certain disaster mitigation and recovery projects to begin more quickly without jeopardizing potential federal funding, the HELP Act provides a straightforward solution to a real problem that will have a meaningful impact at home and across our country.  I am proud of this bill and all it represents—bipartisan, common-sense, meaningful legislation to help expedite disaster mitigation projects. The HELP Act was born out of a partnership with leaders from Texas’ Seventh Congressional District and will benefit all Houstonians.  I thank Congressman McCaul for introducing it with me, and all of my colleagues for joining with me to make this improvement to the disaster recovery process.”

“Texans are unfortunately too familiar with natural disasters,” said Congressman Michael McCaul.  “This critical piece of legislation will ensure we can streamline mitigation measures to protect our communities for the years to come.  By eliminating this bureaucratic red tape we can speed up the process of key flood prevention measures – directly addressing the delay of federal assistance many Texas communities encounter.”

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.  Under current law, local and state agencies applying for federal funds to begin recovery projects must wait until they receive approval from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) before purchasing land or starting construction on a project.  Purchasing land or starting construction without approval disqualifies the project from receiving federal assistance.  This bill represents a change to the current law’s one-size-fits-all approach to reviewing projects that frequently delays mitigation work.

Congresswoman Fletcher introduced the HELP Act with Congressman Michael McCaul (TX-10).  It was co-sponsored by Representatives Colin Allred (TX-32), Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon (PR-At Large), Gregory Murphy (NC-03), G.K. Butterfield (NC-01), and Tom Rice (SC-07).  The HELP Act is the first original bill Congresswoman Fletcher filed as a member of Congress in the 116th Congress, and it passed the House of Representatives with overwhelming bipartisan support, 409 to 7; it was introduced in the Senate by a bipartisan group of Senators, but did not get a vote in the Senate.

To watch the Congresswoman’s floor speech on the bill, click here.