Chairwoman Lowey Statement at Hearing on HUD's Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery Program

2019-10-17 15:25

Congresswoman Nita M. Lowey (D-NY), Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, delivered the following remarks at the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee's oversight hearing on HUD's Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) program:

I’d like to thank my friends Chairman Price and Ranking Member Diaz-Balart for holding this hearing today. Mr. Dennis and Mr. Woll, we hope you can shed light today on what appears to be perpetual stonewalling by HUD and Secretary Carson in your responsibility to assist Americans whose lives have been devastated by natural disasters.

Hurricane Maria destroyed homes, businesses, and public infrastructure in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands in September of 2017.  Yet, grantees in those areas still have not received funds appropriated by Congress as early as February of 2018 because the Administration has not yet executed grant agreements or has failed to even issue required notices.

On April 1st, Secretary Carson gave this subcommittee his word that notices for mitigation funding for potential CDBG-DR grantees would be issued by May 1st. HUD missed this deadline.

But Congress passed the Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act of 2019 in May, on a bipartisan basis, to provide an additional $331 million to address unmet recovery needs for Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

The President signed this bill into law on June 6th, requiring HUD to publish all notices for mitigation funding – included in this bill as well as prior spending bills - by September 4, 2019. No caveats. No carve-outs. No exemptions.

HUD barely made that deadline – but missed Secretary Carson’s self-imposed deadline of May 1st by a longshot – with notices for various disasters on August 30th followed by a notice for the Virgin Islands on September 4th. Yet, as we sit here today, the notice for Puerto Rico still has not been issued.

American communities have been waiting far too long for the relief and recovery assistance they deserve. Any further delay by HUD to facilitate CDBG-DR funds to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands is not just unacceptable, it is unlawful.

I hope you will take these concerns and your duties seriously by contributing to a productive discussion today and by doing your jobs to help Americans in need. 

116th Congress