Powering Strong Communities

Interest Relief And Hazard Mitigation Included In Recently Passed House Bill  

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) would be required to help pay interest expenses for loans taken out to cover costs that will eventually be repaid with FEMA public assistance grants under legislation recently passed by the House.

Under H.R. 5689, the Resilient Assistance for Mitigation for Environmentally Resilient Infrastructure and Construction by Americans Act (Resilient AMERICA Act), the amount automatically set aside for pre-disaster mitigation funds would also be increased from 6 percent of public assistance granted for the year to 15 percent. 

The interest provision is based on legislation introduced in April of last year by Representatives Neal Dunn (R-FL) and Darren Soto (D-FL) called the FEMA Loan Interest Payment Relief Act (H.R. 2669). This bill was drafted to assist public power utilities and rural electric cooperatives that take out loans to cover disaster-related costs that will eventually be repaid by FEMA.

Under the bill, rural electric cooperatives and public power utilities would be reimbursed for at least some of the interest expense of such loans. Reimbursement would be set at the lesser of either: a) the actual interest paid, or b) the interest that would have been paid if the loan had been set at the prime rate.

The text of H.R. 2669 was incorporated into the Resilient AMERICA Act before being passed by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in October 2021.

The Resilient AMERICA Act was sent to the Senate on April 6 and referred to the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee. In addition, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced a companion bill (S. 2212) last year that was also referred to Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee.