Bipartisan Duplications of Benefits Victims Relief Act sponsored by Graves

Rep. Garret Graves

U.S. Rep. Garret Graves (R-LA) on Oct. 26 sponsored a bipartisan bill that would help flood victims by extending the waiver of duplicate benefits limitation for certain payments to individuals in the event of a major disaster.

“The federal government has spent less time expediting the recovery process for our community than they have developing reasons why we shouldn’t receive recovery assistance at all,” Rep. Graves said. “Their crazy policies have made it nearly impossible for families to recover, and our bill changes this trajectory.”

Specifically, the Duplications of Benefits Victims Relief Act, H.R. 6083, which is cosponsored by U.S. Rep. Troy Carter (D-LA), would extend the Duplication of Benefits (DOB) relief provision in the Disaster Recovery Reform Act of 2018 for an additional five years. The provision is set to expire this year, according to a bill summary provided by Rep. Graves’ staff.

If enacted, H.R. 6083 also would state that this fix would apply to all 2016 Louisiana flood victims in an effort to prevent federal agencies from adding new eligibility requirements for victims who became eligible for federal assistance following enactment of the 2018 law, the summary says.

Under a “flawed federal policy,” recovery funds promised to those victims were reduced or eliminated if a homeowner had qualified for a federal disaster recovery loan from the Small Business Administration (SBA), says the summary, which noted that because a homeowner was already approved for a federal disaster loan, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development said it would be a “duplication of benefits” for the homeowner to also receive a federal recovery grant.

“We promised the 2016 flood victims that we would not give up and the majority of DOB victims were promised relief through our previous efforts,” said Rep. Graves. “We aren’t going to stop until the remaining flood victims receive the relief that they deserve.”

Rep. Carter added that H.R. 6083 would allow governors to ask the federal government not to consider a loan a duplication of a grant following a disaster. 

“It’s wrong to tell someone desperate to return home after a storm that because they took out a loan, they will be unable to benefit from future federal programs,” he said. “A loan is not a grant, and I’ll happily provide a copy of the dictionary to anyone who thinks otherwise.”