House Passes Graves Bill to Cut Red Tape at FEMA

April 06, 2022

WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Sam Graves (MO-06) celebrated the House passing his Small Project Efficient and Effective Disaster (SPEED) Recovery Act today by an overwhelming 414-11 vote. The legislation updates FEMA’s small project threshold to allow more projects—particularly in small rural communities—to move forward under a simplified approval process.

“The SPEED Recovery Act is going to dramatically reduce the number of hoops communities have to jump through with FEMA to get much needed help,” said Graves. “Congress created an expedited process for small disaster recovery projects to get approved through FEMA, but the threshold for what qualifies as a ‘small project’ has fallen out of touch with reality. Updating this threshold is going to reduce the burden of red tape on small communities and allow them to recover from disaster faster. This is a big win for rural America.”

You can watch Congressman Graves’ full remarks on the SPEED Recovery Act here:

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Background Information

Historically, the number of disaster projects that qualified as small projects with simplified procedures accounted for 95% of such projects. However, because the threshold for a “small project” has not kept pace with inflation and modern construction costs, a much larger percentage of projects (nearly 25% of all recovery projects) now fall outside of the scope of a “small project.” This has added unnecessary paperwork and burdens for both communities and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

The SPEED Recovery Act will give communities more control in the rebuilding process for smaller projects, and it will once again ensure that approximately 95% of projects qualify as “small projects.” Notably, while “small projects” constitute a large percentage of total projects, they only represent about 10% of federal disaster funding costs, and the bill’s proposed adjustment represents minimal risk to the taxpayer. FEMA will then be able to focus more of its staff and time on addressing larger, more complex projects.

The simplified procedures for small projects were established over three decades ago, but the cost threshold in law for what qualifies as a “small project” has only been updated once since then. This bill will update the threshold to $1 million and allow small rural communities to recover more efficiently from a disaster.

The Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and the Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management have jurisdiction over the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and federal disaster programs.

Click here to read the bill.

In addition to passing Graves’ SPEED Recovery Act, the House also passed the Resilient Assistance for Mitigation for Environmentally Resilient Infrastructure and Construction by Americans (AMERICA) Act today—which was introduced by Ranking Member Graves and Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio.

“The Resilient AMERICA Act will reduce disaster damages and hardships by placing a higher priority on disaster mitigation,” said Graves. “In my district, many people have suffered losses to their homes and business because of flooding, and this bill makes commonsense reforms to ensure that we invest more FEMA resources on the front end to reduce and prevent the impacts of floods and other disasters before they can strike.”

The Resilient AMERICA Act would:

Return unspent funds from the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program to the Disaster Relief Fund (DRF), which ensures that these expiring and unspent funds will still help our communities prepare for and respond to disasters.

Double the funding stream dedicated to FEMA’s Pre-Disaster Mitigation program.

Extend eligibility for Pre-Disaster Mitigation (PDM) to include private non-profits (PNPs), which ultimately will reduce the impact and damage from a disaster.

Expand the reach of the post-disaster Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) to prevent utility outages in the face of extreme wildfire, wind, tsunami, and ice events.

Fund residential resilience retrofit block grants to states, tribes, and territories to strengthen homes for maximum protection and safety



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