Missouri communities, including Joplin, set to receive more aid

Amidst Congressional debate over disaster funding, Blunt finds alternative for funds.

Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., initiated an amendment into the fiscal year of 2012 spending bill for Housing and Urban Development, Transportation and Related Agencies, which added $400 million of disaster relief funding.

The bill passed last Wednesday, and the money will be added to the Community Development Block Grant program, which aids disaster relief efforts.

“There is still a lot of work to be done, but this amendment is a critical step forward to make sure Joplin and the communities along the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers have the resources they need in order to rebuild,” Blunt said in a news release.

The Community Development Block Grant program provides communities with resources to address a wide range of unique community development needs, according to its website.

Like other Missouri legislators, Blunt said he is trying to secure funding to aid the areas of the state plagued with disaster this past spring and summer.

“My first priority is finding the best way possible to make sure this funding is available for the families, farmers, and communities that were impacted by a number of natural disasters in Missouri this year,” Blunt said in the news release.

The amendment comes at a time when Congress is in a deadlock regarding disaster relief funding. Barring a congressional agreement, the federal disaster relief account is expected to run out by the end of this month.

Blunt was one of 10 Republicans who crossed party lines and voted in favor of a Senate proposal to add nearly $7 billion to disaster relief funding accounts that are nearly depleted, according to the Senate’s website. The bill passed through the Democrat-controlled Senate but was later rejected in the House.

The Republican-controlled House is proposing a different solution that allocates approximately $3.7 billion for disaster relief, $1.6 billion of which is accounted for in spending cuts, according to USA Today. The bill passed through the House by a vote of 219-203, according to the House’s website. It was later rejected in the Senate.

“The house passed a common-sense measure to keep the government open and provide immediate disaster relief to American families who desperately need it,” Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, said in a news release Friday.

Democrats in the Senate rejected the House bill partially because of a lack of funding, according to a news release.

“It fails to provide the relief that our fellow Americans need as they struggle to rebuild their lives in the wake of floods, wildfires and hurricanes,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said in the release Friday.

Congressional leaders now once again stand at the brink of a potential government shutdown and must take action this week to keep the government running once the new fiscal year begins on Oct. 1, according to CNN.

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