Issue Profile: The Budget for Disasters Act

Declarations of federal disasters has been on the rise since the Clinton Administration. President Obama has taken that trend to incredible new heights. Last year, President Obama’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) declared 243 natural disasters, requiring billions of dollars of taxpayer funds to help clean up.

At one time, states were responsible for setting aside funds for natural disasters as part of their budgeting process. But, as state budgets have grown, states have relied more and more on the federal government to help pay for cleanup efforts associated with bad storms. Congress has gotten away with increasing FEMA funding each year by using an accounting loophole that allows disaster funding to fall outside of budget caps. This way, Congress can claim to the American people that they are spending less than they actually are.

Congressman Doug Lamborn (R-CO) has introduced a bill that would end that gimmick. The Budget for Disasters Act (H.R.4386) would remove that gimmick and ensure that disaster spending is included with the rest of the federal budget.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has estimated that this bill could save about $100 billion over ten years.

Stopping the wasteful practice of counting certain types of spending outside of budget caps must stop. Congress needs to stop misleading the American people about the amount of money they’re spending and this bill is a step in the right direction toward ensuring honesty in budgeting.

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