Thursday, June 19, 2008

Harkin: Fed Aid May Hit $4 Billion In Midwest

U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin says federal aid for flood-ravaged portions of the Midwest could be between $3 billion and $4 billion -- and that's just an early estimate.

Harkin, an Iowa Democrat, travels Thursday to Iowa with President Bush aboard Air Force One to help show the nation's chief executive damage first-hand, and make the case for federal assistance.

Speaking with reporters on a conference call, Harkin said about $1.8 billion would flow to Iowa and surrounding states hit by flooding through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). More than $1 billion more -- to start with -- will come through other special appropriations, said Harkin, chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee.

"There more be more later on," Harkin said.

The money would go to Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas and Missouri through the small business, transportation, community block grants and agricultural sources.

"We don't know how much Missouri is going to require because that hasn't hit yet," Harkin said.

Harkin said the Department of Labor has signed off on the release of more than $17 million in national emergency monies -- including $6 million for Iowa -- for temporary jobs aimed at the flood recovery efforts. The jobs would last up to 26 weeks.

"This could provide pretty good jobs for people who have been dislocated," Harkin said. For information on these jobs call (800) JOB-IOWA.

When asked by reporters what he would talk to Bush about during the tours of devastated regions, Harkin listed funding for disaster loans and Corps of Engineers work along with farm-related assistance.

While it is too early for a final verdict on the coordinated federal and local response, Harkin said it is apparent lessons were learned from both the floods of 1993 and Hurricane Katrina.

"I was impressed with how fast they moved people to Iowa," Harkin said of the federal government.

He added, "I think perhaps they learned a lot during Katrina. I think we're benefiting from mistakes they made during Katrina."

1 comment:

Mitch H. said...

I’m outraged that Senator John McCain would disregard the request of Governor Chet Culver to not visit Iowa amid a massive flood recovery effort in the state. It is unfortunate that John McCain couldn't resist the opportunity to exploit this tragedy for political gain.

In 2007, John McCain opposed federal legislation that included funding for flood control in Des Moines. Iowa's congressional delegation supported the Water Resources Development Act of 2007. President George Bush later vetoed the bill.

In 2006, McCain voted against appropriating supplemental emergency funding, including hurricane relief for New Orleans.

I applaud Senator Barack Obama, who canceled his scheduled visit to eastern Iowa last week at the request of state officials.

John McCain chose his own political gain over the welfare and safety of the citizens of Iowa.