Federal Stafford Act Disaster Assistance: Presidential Declarations, Eligible Activities, and Funding [Updated August 15, 2008]   [open pdf - 245KB]

"The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (the Stafford Act) authorizes the President to issue major disaster or emergency declarations in response to catastrophes that overwhelm state and local governments. Such declarations result in the distribution of a wide range of federal aid to individuals and families, certain nonprofit organizations, and public agencies. Congress appropriates money to the Disaster Relief Fund (DRF) for disaster assistance authorized by the Stafford Act, which is administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). […] At the conclusion of the 109th Congress the Senate inserted Stafford Act amendments into the FY2007 DHS appropriations legislation (H.R. 5441, enacted as P.L. 109-295). These amendments, Subtitle E of Title VI (120 Stat. 1444 - 1457), expand FEMA's authority to expedite emergency assistance to stricken areas, impose new planning and preparedness requirements on federal administrators, and increase federal assistance to victims and communities. […] On July 31, 2008, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee ordered to be reported H.R. 6658, which would make significant changes in the Stafford Act regarding various issues, including, but not limited to, temporary employees, warning systems, pre-disaster hazard mitigation; the bill also would establish new authorities for existing programs and the funding mechanism. Also, H.R. 2775, reported from the same committee on September 10, 2007, would amend the statute by authorizing the Emergency Management Performance Grant (EMPG) program. Third, the full House approved a bill reauthorizing the Pre-Disaster Mitigation (PDM) program (H.R. 6109). In addition, legislation specific to the administration of Stafford Act provisions in the Gulf Coast (cost-share waivers in H.R. 1591 and cancellation of loan repayment requirements in S. 965) were folded into P.L. 110-28, the U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans' Care, Katrina Recovery, and Iraq Accountability Act, 2007."

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CRS Report for Congress, RL33053
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