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Texas Officials: Get Moving on Harvey Relief Money

hurricane vortex

hurricane vortexHigh-ranking Texas officials including Gov. Greg Abbott is calling on the federal government to establish rules that will allow for the flow of $4.3 billion to the state for Hurricane Harvey recovery, as reported in The Eagle [1].

The article [2] pointed out that Texas has been awaiting guidelines from U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and the Office of Management and Budget, for the use of grant funds for projects meant to help kickstart storm resiliency initiatives in Harvey-impacted communities. The officials also urged the establishments to be more proactive in their approach to have appropriate systems in place, well in advance of the next hurricane season, which begins in June.

Last week, Texas Land Commissioner, George P. Bush said that he did not receive a response to his letter to the President asking for him to intervene, from the then-OMB Chief Mick Mulvaney, who is now President Donald Trump’s acting Chief of Staff. The delay in response is as an indication that the General Land Office (GLO), responsible for overseeing Harvey recovery, could not execute a "state action plan" dictating how the funds may be used, he stated.

On Monday, Houston-area members of Congress, in a letter, urged OMB Acting Director Russell Vought to “expedite the approval of the rules at HUD that will define mitigation projects for Community Development Block Grant disaster recovery grants.” The letter was signed by Gov. Greg Abbott and Texas’ two U.S. senators, John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, along with the entire Houston congressional delegation, and U.S. Rep. Michael Cloud of Corpus Christi.

The Congress had approved $4.3 billion last February for Texas as part of a HUD grant program designed to help communities, especially in low-income areas. Texas officeholders wrote that the rules have not yet been published despite the collaboration between the GLO and HUD. "As a result, the GLO has been significantly delayed in drafting a State Action Plan for the funds, the critical next step at the state level before the grants can begin to flow.”