Peters, Paul & Rubio Bipartisan Bill to Create One Deadline to Apply for FEMA Disaster Assistance Programs for Individuals Heads to President to be Signed into Law

WASHINGTON, DC – The House has passed bipartisan legislation authored by U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Rand Paul (R-KY), Chairman and Ranking Member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and Marco Rubio (R-FL) to create one application deadline for two Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) programs that individuals use for federal disaster assistance. FEMA’s Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) and Individuals and Households Program (IHP) currently have different application deadlines following a disaster declaration, which can cause confusion for disaster survivors who may have trouble tracking when they need to apply for each program. The senators’ bipartisan legislation would ensure these programs have the same deadline to reduce the burden on people who need them to rebuild their lives after disasters. The legislation was led through the House by U.S. Representative Joe Neguse (D-CO-2). The bill passed the Senate in July 2023, and now heads to the President to be signed into law.  

“Following a natural disaster, survivors shouldn’t have to worry about conflicting deadlines when applying to federal disaster assistance programs. This bipartisan legislation will limit confusion within the application process and make it easier for families in need to access these critical resources,” said Chairman Peters

“When natural disaster strikes, people already have enough stress and confusion to contend with, and it is imperative that the government does not exacerbate the situation by imposing complicated and confusing rules,” said Ranking Member Paul. “In order to ensure a smoother and more efficient experience for those seeking aid, I supported the Disaster Assistance Deadlines Alignment Act which would simplify the federal disaster assistance process by aligning the deadlines for two programs.”   

“Unnecessarily complicated bureaucracy often stands in the way of the government helping its citizens,” said Senator Rubio.“I was proud to work with Senator Peters to pass this bill, and I look forward to seeing this common sense bill become law.” 

“Colorado is no stranger to natural disasters, and FEMA has often provided critical federal assistance to families and households that have been impacted, but the process can be cumbersome. I am proud to see the House act quickly to pass my bill with Senator Peters that helps simplify access to critical FEMA assistance programs,” said Congressman Neguse. “We will continue to cut through the red tape to ensure that our communities have the tools they need to rebuild and recover after disasters.” 

The bipartisan Disaster Assistance Deadlines Alignment Act wouldhelp reduce confusion for disaster survivors by requiring at least 60 days for survivors to submit applications for both the DUA and IHP programs. Currently, the DUA deadline is 30 days and the IHP deadline is 60 days after a federal disaster declaration. 

Below are statements in support of the senators’ bipartisan legislation: 

“When disasters strike, county officials and emergency responders play a critical role in the immediate response and longer-term efforts to help our communities and residents recover,” said National Association of Counties Executive Director Matthew Chase.“Once federal assistance becomes available, residents often must complete complex, arduous applications with inconsistent deadlines during the most stressful times of their lives. The bipartisan Disaster Assistance Deadlines Alignment Act would align deadlines between FEMA’s Disaster Unemployment Assistance and the Individuals and Households Program, two financial lifelines for our residents. We thank Senators Peters, Paul and Rubio for leading this legislation and urge its passage into law.” 

“SBP is proud to support efforts that streamline the disaster recovery process and allow more survivors to access the assistance they need,” said SBP Chief Strategy & Innovation Officer Reese May.“Aligning the application timelines for FEMA’s Individuals and Households Program and Disaster Unemployment Assistance prevents further confusion among applicants and eases access to disaster assistance for survivors.” 

“We know that navigating the impacts of disasters can present an enormous burden to families. By streamlining deadlines for disaster unemployment with other FEMA programs, it can limit the complexity for those impacted,” said Team Rubicon Chief Programs Officer David Burke. “Team Rubicon supports the Disaster Assistance Deadlines Alignment Act of 2023 as one small step to help disaster survivors.” 

“Federal assistance complexity after disasters is a barrier to help, and floods can often take weeks after a disaster declaration to recede. Aligning Disaster Unemployment Assistance with IHP deadlines which reduces complexity, and giving an extra 30 days or more to file for assistance, will be very helpful to many flood survivors in putting their lives back to normal,” Chad Berginnis, Executive Director, Association of State Floodplain Managers.

“American Flood Coalition Action is proud to support this common sense proposal to simplify the federal disaster assistance process by aligning program deadlines,” said Brandon Renz, Senior Government Relations Director at American Flood Coalition Action. “We appreciate Chairman Peters and Senator Rubio’s bipartisan efforts to support survivors navigating federal programs as they rebuild their lives in the wake of major floods and other disasters.” 

“The International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM) applauds Chairman Peters, Ranking Member Paul, and Senator Rubio for their commitment to the simplification of the application process for disaster survivors, and we endorse S.1858, the Disaster Assistance Deadlines Alignment Act,” said Cathy M. Clark, M.A., President, IAEM-USA. “This bill is another common-sense reform that will align application deadlines between Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) and Individuals and Households Program (IHP) when both are approved after a major disaster. ”