FEMA Act would allow tribes to directly apply for federal disaster aid

by Angela Denning-Barnes on September 21, 2012

The House of Representatives Wednesday passed legislation to allow federally recognized tribes to seek a federal emergency or disaster declaration directly from the president. Currently, the governor must request a federal disaster.

The change comes in a section of the 2012 FEMA Reauthorization Act. The Senate would have to pass it too, which is unlikely this session.

In June, Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate sent a letter to Congress asking for the passage of the provision.

Fugate stated that Section 210 would amend the Stafford Act allowing tribes to directly apply for federal disaster aid.

“Such an amendment to the Stafford Act affirms the sovereignty of tribal governments,” Fugate wrote. “FEMA has strong, long-standing relationships with tribal governments, and they are essential members of the emergency management team. The U.S. Government has a unique government-to-government relationship with federally recognized tribal governments, and amending the Stafford Act to recognize this sovereign relationship will only strengthen the way that FEMA supports tribal communities before, after and during disasters.”

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