Federal Stafford Act Disaster Assistance: Presidential Declarations, Eligible Activities, and Funding [June 7, 2011] [open pdf - 322KB]
From the Summary: "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 in the United States 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), through both annual appropriations and emergency supplemental appropriations, for disaster assistance authorized by the Stafford Act. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) administers most, but not all, of the authority the statute vests in the President. […] Previously introduced legislation during the 111th Congress would have amended the statute. Among the proposals, H.R. 3377, the Disaster Response, Recovery, and Mitigation Enhancement Act of 2009, would have authorized the Disaster Relief Fund, provided health benefits to temporary or intermittent federal employees who provide disaster assistance, authorized the National Urban Search and Rescue Response System, and requested FEMA to update standards for individual assistance disaster requests. Other bills sought to reauthorize a mortgage and rental assistance program terminated in 2000 (H.R. 888/S. 763), establish new eligibility criteria (H.R. 941, H.R. 1059, H.R. 1494, H.R. 2484, H.R. 4141, and S. 1069), and mandate establishment of a tracking and storage plan for housing units used by disaster survivors (H.R. 3437/S. 713)."
CRS Report for Congress, RL33053