Today, Gov. John Bel Edwards called on Sen. John Kennedy to replace the Duplication of Benefits (DOB) language in the Continuing Resolution (CR) with bipartisan language crafted by Congressmen Garret Graves and Cedric Richmond. Sen. Kennedy cosponsored an effort with Sen. Marco Rubio that would relieve only 3,800 Louisianans of the DOB penalty as opposed to the 12,300 that would be aided by the bipartisan House version according to analysis by the Louisiana Office of Community Development. The United States Senate is set to consider the CR and the DOB language, prompting the governor’s letter to Sen. Kennedy.
“Unfortunately, you lent your support to a bill that only helps approximately one-third of the Louisianans the House language helps,” Gov. Edwards wrote in the letter. “The language crafted by Congressmen Graves and Richmond would provide critical assistance to not only Louisiana, but also Texas, Florida Puerto Rico and other states that have experienced natural disasters.”
Sen. Kennedy is the only member of the Louisiana Congressional Delegation with a seat on the Senate Appropriations Committee, giving him the opportunity to reverse course and prioritize the needs of Louisianans who have been hamstrung and frustrated by the federal DOB penalty.
“Please support the bipartisan proposal that is on the table that does more good for the people of Louisiana,” continued Gov. Edwards. “The Senate should adopt the Graves-Richmond legislation immediately so that flood victims can be free from this burdensome federal penalty. “
Currently, flood survivors who applied for Small Business Administration loans immediately following the floods are not able to make full use of grant funding available through the RESTORE Louisiana Homeowner Assistance Program. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in the immediate aftermath of a disaster, insists that survivors apply for a SBA loan without fully disclosing that they could be penalized down the road. For example, a homeowner who was eligible for a $90,000 SBA disaster loan, but perhaps only borrowed $30,000 immediately following the disaster, would be penalized in the grant program for the full amount of the loan. The federal government labels this scenario as a Duplication of Benefits (DOB). This is also the case if a homeowner borrowed $0. That homeowner is still penalized for the full $90,000.