Federal Stafford Act Disaster Assistance: Presidential Declarations, Eligible Activities, and Funding [Updated September 5, 2005] [open pdf - 63KB]
"The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (the Stafford Act) authorizes the President to issue a major disaster declaration to speed a wide range of federal aid to states determined to be overwhelmed by hurricanes or other catastrophes. Financing for the aid is appropriated to the Disaster Relief Fund (DRF), administered by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Funds appropriated to the DRF remain available until expended (a 'no-year' account). The Stafford Act authorizes temporary housing, grants for immediate needs of families and individuals, the repair of public infrastructure, emergency communications systems, and other forms of assistance. Because the Stafford Act provides the President with permanent authority to direct federal aid to stricken states, Congress need not enact new legislation to meet immediate needs. Congress has appropriated over $20 billion to the DRF in FY2005 in response to the four hurricanes that struck Florida in the fall of 2004, Hurricane Katrina (August 29, 2005), and other disasters. Congress can elect to consider supplemental appropriations should additional money be required to meet requests for assistance. This report will be updated as warranted by events."
CRS Report for Congress, RL33053