Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Shown Here:
Passed Senate amended (10/03/1986)

(Measure passed Senate, amended)

Disaster Relief Act Amendments of 1986 - Amends the short title of the Disaster Relief Act of 1974 to read the "Major Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act."

Amends such Act to redefine "emergency" to include any instance for which, in the President's determination, Federal assistance is needed to supplement State and local efforts to save lives and protect property.

Repeals provisions of the Public Works and Economic Development Act of 1965 concerning economic recovery for disaster areas.

Amends the Disaster Relief Act of 1974 (hereinafter referred to as the Disaster Relief Act) to revise procedures concerning State requests for emergency assistance. Describes the determination to be made by the President concerning the nature of an emergency prior to authorizing emergency assistance under such Act.

Authorizes the President, in any emergency, to: (1) direct any Federal agency to use its resources to save lives and protect property and public health; (2) coordinate Federal agencies with State and local officials in providing emergency assistance; and (3) provide technical and advisory assistance to affected State and local governments in the performance of essential community services in the event of an emergency.

Sets forth the manner by which the President is authorized to provide emergency assistance. Limits funds to a set amount for any single emergency, except when the President determines that continued emergency assistance is immediately required. Requires a report from the President to the Congress when such single-event funds are exceeded.

Redefines "major disaster." Makes other technical and conforming amendments. Requires facilities receiving such emergency assistance to have been covered by adequate and reasonable flood insurance in order to receive full assistance benefits. Provides for the repayment of duplicated insurance benefits.

Amends title III of the Disaster Relief Act to provide for: (1) a declaration that action taken or assistance provided pursuant to such Act that restores facilities substantially as they existed before the disaster shall not be deemed a major Federal action significantly affecting the quality of the environment within the meaning of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969; (2) actions by the Attorney General against any party whose acts or omissions may have caused or contributed to the events resulting in a presidential declaration of emergency or disaster; (3) audits and investigations by the President, in conjunction with the Comptroller General, to assure compliance with the Disaster Relief Act; and (4) criminal and civil penalties for violations of such Act.

Amends title IV of the Disaster Relief Act to: (1) provide that all requests for a declaration by the President that a major disaster exists shall be made by the Governor of the State affected, who shall provide the President with certain information; (2) provide that in any case where an eligible applicant (or the State) is unable to assume its cost-sharing responsibility, the President is authorized to lend or advance a 25 percent share, such loan to be repaid with interest; (3) allow the President to assist State and local governments in performing essential services, distributing food, medicine, and supplies, and coordinating disaster assistance organizations; and (4) authorize Federal agencies to provide assistance by utilizing resources available under any Act, distributing food, medicine, or supplies, donating equipment and supplies to State and local governments, and performing any emergency work or services essential to save lives and protect and preserve property.

Authorizes the President to make contributions to State or local governments to help repair or replace public facilities which were damaged or destroyed by a major disaster. Limits such contributions to 75 percent of the net eligible cost. Authorizes the President to make the same such contributions to private nonprofit facilities, with the same contribution limit. Prohibits such contributions from being made unless the entity affected agrees that such facility shall be repaired in compliance with flood plain management and hazard mitigation criteria required by the President, in conformity with the Coastal Barriers Resources Act and other applicable Federal statutes.

Allows a State to receive a 50-percent-of-repair-cost contribution for facilities damaged in a major disaster in lieu of any other contribution when a State or local government determines that it would be best not to repair or replace such damaged facilities. Limits the Federal share of disaster assistance available for repairs and reconstruction of public facilities and private nonprofit facilities and debris removal to 75 percent of eligible costs.

Revises provisions concerning temporary housing assistance for those displaced by a major disaster or emergency. Authorizes the President to provide such assistance by using Federal departments or agencies. Limits the duration of Federal financial and operational responsibilities for temporary housing assistance to 18 months from the date of the major disaster, unless the President determines that extraordinary circumstances require an extension beyond such period. Authorizes the President to contribute up to 50 percent of the cost of implementing hazard mitigation projects.

Increases the duration of unemployment assistance to individuals unemployed as a result of a major disaster to 52 weeks from the occurrence of the disaster (currently 26 weeks). Directs the President to provide disaster unemployment assistance through agreements with States.

Modifies the requirement that the States repay the advances on matching grants made by the Federal Government for individual and family disaster relief grants by deferring repayment (and the interest accruing thereon) for a maximum period of two years from the date of the major disaster declaration. Increases from $5,000 to $7,500 the maximum aggregate grant amount which an individual or family may receive with respect to any one major disaster.

Repeals disaster relief provisions regarding purchasers of Federal timber.

Removes the Canal Zone from coverage under such Act.

Prohibits a State from being ruled ineligible to receive disaster assistance solely by virtue of an arithmetic formula based on income or population.