Portman, Peters Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Prevent Clawbacks of Assistance to Disaster Victims

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) and Gary Peters, Ranking Member and Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, introduced the Preventing Disaster Revictimization Act, legislation that prevents the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) from taking back assistance it has provided to victims of disaster due to an error made by the agency. Weeks, months, and sometimes years after victims have used federal assistance to recover from a disaster, FEMA has sought to reclaim funds, even when the agency was at fault and funds were used appropriately. The Preventing Disaster Revictimization Act would require FEMA to waive the debt of disaster relief recipients in cases where the agency later determined it mistakenly granted assistance, but no fraud was committed.  The bill would also require FEMA to report on the number of these mistakes made in individual assistance awards and efforts the agency takes to minimize such errors. The text of the bill is here.  

“When victims of a disaster apply for assistance in good faith and begin rebuilding their lives, they should not fear that FEMA might claw back the money due to bureaucratic mistakes,” said Ranking Member Portman. “The Preventing Disaster Revictimization Act brings peace of mind and stability to victims by ensuring bureaucratic mistakes do not bring more trauma to those recovering from devastating disasters. I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting this commonsense legislation to safeguard hardworking Americans who have already faced a life-altering disaster.” 

“Families in Michigan and across America who are trying to recover from a disaster shouldn’t have to worry that the assistance they receive from the federal government might be taken away for reasons that are not their fault,” said Chairman Peters. “This commonsense legislation will help protect vulnerable folks who have endured a disaster – and ensure they won’t face additional unnecessary burdens at a time when they are working to restore their lives.”