Tag Archive for: Cornyn

Lack of Senate Action Holds Up Resolution of So-Called Duplication-of-Benefits Issues

A bi-partisan amendment sponsored by Dan Crenshaw and approved in the U.S. House of Representatives would provide $45 million to resolve “duplication-of-benefits” issues that continue to dog more than 1000 Texans stemming from Hurricane Harvey. However, the bill has not yet been taken up in the Senate. Pleas for help to Senators Cruz and Cornyn by Hurricane Harvey flood victims have not resulted in action.

At issue: whether those who are eligible for grants, but who received SBA loans, should be allowed to use grants to pay back loans. The government permitted this after Katrina and wants to permit it for Harvey victims, but 961 days after the storm, the Senate has still not voted on Crenshaw’s amendment that would enable it.

Duplication of Benefits or Duplication of Disasters?

Many Harvey victims who would qualify for grants took out loans to restore their homes more quickly. The government counts both grants and loans equally in terms of aid. But the loans must be repaid. That places a large burden on low-income families, retired people, and those who have become unemployed due to the corona virus.

Home of retired/unemployed Harvey victim who would qualify for grant but is being denied it because he took out an SBA loan to restore his home more quickly.

Imagine you were retired, then flooded during Harvey. You’re living on social security and savings. For the sake of illustration, let’s say you had damage totaling $100,000. You got a grant of $20,000 and took out an SBA loan for $80,000 to repair your home. Then you came out of retirement and found another job to pay back the loan. But your employer laid you off when the virus hit.

When you took out the loan, you were told that it would not count against you if additional grants became available later. But it did. When you applied for the second grant to help pay back the loan, they told you it would count as a “duplication of benefits.”

Trying to Untangle Web of Bureaucracy

As you investigate the problem, you discover that Congress did not intend the SBA loans to count as a duplication of benefits. The President agreed. And HUD issued rulings saying they weren’t. But the General Land Office and City of Houston (the entities actually distributing the grants) still consider you ineligible.

Why? They don’t have enough money to cover people in your category. Why? Because the Senate has not acted on Crenshaw’s amendment. When you write your Senators, you get polite form letters back, but no action.

Will this problem be fixed? Will the Senate ever act? Probably not. The government is so consumed with the corona crisis that it has forgotten about the Harvey crisis. Meanwhile, the victims of BOTH are forgotten.

How You Can Help Forgotten Ones

If you think this is unfair, please email your Senators. They respond to public pressure.

Please take a few minutes.

  • Ask your senators to sponsor “the Crenshaw-Fletcher Amendment for HUD appropriations to supplement Harvey Housing.”
  • Emphasize that loans are being classified as “benefits” to deny people who would otherwise be eligible to receive grants.
  • Loans weren’t considered a duplication of benefits after Katrina, but they are for Harvey.
  • Congress, the President and HUD don’t want loans to be a duplication of benefits.
  • Constituents are being doubly hurt by a “duplication of disasters”: Inaction over the duplication of benefits issue and unemployment due to the virus.

Contact:

Posted by Bob Rehak on 4/16/2020

961 Days after Hurricane Harvey

Crenshaw, Brady, Cruz and Cornyn Ask FEMA to Dredge More of West Fork Mouth Bar

On October 24, 2019, Congressman Dan Crenshaw, along with Texas Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz and Representative Kevin Brady (TX-08), sent a letter to Acting FEMA Administrator Peter Gaynor. The letter requested FEMA’s swift approval of the City of Houston’s new plan to dredge more of the San Jacinto river mouth bar.

Letter in Response to New Request Filed by City

The letter came in response to the most recent request from the City for FEMA aid on or about October 11, 2019.

While FEMA has already completed its initial 500,000 cubic-yard debris-removal mission, sediment brought by Hurricane Harvey still exists in the San Jacinto river mouth-bar. To protect Houston, Kingwood, and Humble residents from future flooding, it is imperative that the remaining debris is removed, said Congressman Dan Crenshaw.

“The City of Houston recently filed a Project Worksheet (PW) for debris removal as Category A work under the Public Assistance program,” the group of legislators wrote. “We urge you to use any and all necessary FEMA resources to expeditiously review and approve the city’s PW. Delay will only increase costs and prevent FEMA from fully leveraging presently available dredging assets.”

To see the complete letter, click here.

Great Lakes Packing Up

Great Lakes Dredge and Dock has finished its Army Corps assignment at the mouth bar. I photographed workers continuing to dismantle the company’s dredge this afternoon.

Packing it in. Great Lakes Dismantles its dredge after a little more than a year on the West Fork. Photo taken 10/26/2019.
The command post opposite Marina Drive in Forest Cove was a behind of activity this afternoon.
Note the sections of dredge pipe stacked up in the background. It is no longer connected to the dredge.
Crew and survey boats, cranes and other heavy equipment still remain to support a future dredging effort…but not for long.

The last line of the letter (“leveraging presently available dredging assets”) refers to assets other than the dredge itself. Such assets include the command post opposite Forest Cove, a second launch point in Atascocita, pipe, cranes, and other assets that could soon be removed. See photos above.

TDEM to Forward Request to FEMA

As of yesterday, according to Houston City Council Member Dave Martin, TDEM still had not forwarded the request to FEMA. However, this reportedly falls within TDEM’s normal processing time for such requests. I wouldn’t read too much into it yet. But let’s hope they hustle up. Those crews at the command site were working late into Saturday night. I’m guessing that represents overtime.

You can clearly see from the pictures above how much equipment it takes to support a dredging operation. And remember, each 40-section of dredge pipe weighs 4,000 pounds and there are about 10 miles of it! This request should not be taken lightly.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 10/26/2019

788 Days since Hurricane Harvey