The latest FEMA report revealed that much of the FY2023 Disaster Relief Fund was spent on COVID expenditures and the fund is expected to be underwater by over $8 billion by the end of the fiscal year.
The proposed Homeland Security FY2024 appropriations bill includes allocating over $20 billion to the Disaster Relief Fund. But even if the appropriations bill is approved by Congress, the fund would already be in the red when the current fiscal year ends on September 30.
Last Friday, Florida Democrat Rep. Jared Moskowitz introduced legislation addressing the budget shortfall by providing supplemental funding of $11.5 billion for the Disaster Relief Fund.
However, according to Alex Nitzberg of the Blaze, if the House takes up Moskowitz’s legislation, it is likely that instead of passing the legislation as it is, some lawmakers could try to add other spending priorities to the measure.
Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) told Roll Call that there are a lot of lawmakers with “different ideas for a supplemental” appropriations bill. He said lawmakers generally find ways to “come together around disaster supplementals.”
Hawaii Democrat Senator Brian Schatz told NBC News in June that additional appropriations for the Disaster Relief Fund were necessary “unless this is the one year with no natural disasters.” Schatz added that he also believed that Congress would have to do a supplemental spending bill for Ukraine as well.
In his column, Nitzberg suggests that because Republican lawmakers are divided on the issue of Congress approving additional funding for Ukraine, if supplemental disaster relief funding is combined with additional funding for Ukraine, it could place some Republican lawmakers in the unenviable position of either rejected the measure and voting against supplemental disaster relief funding or supporting the measure and voting in favor of more aid for Ukraine.