Garamendi supports bill to protect compensation for wildfire victims
On Wednesday, Rep. John Garamendi, D-Solano, supported passage of the Preventing Disaster Revictimization Act, which unanimously passed out of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.
Garamendi, a member of the committee, is a cosponsor of the legislation that was introduced Tuesday by Rep. Sam Graves, RMissouri. The bill, also known as House Resolution 5953, seeks to prevent the federal government from raiding a wildfire victim settlement fund allowing victims of the recent California wildfires and other calamities to seek reimbursement from natural disasters.
On Jan. 17, Garamendi joined four other Northern California congressmen — Jared Huffman, Tom McClintock, Doug LaMalfa and Mike Thomspon — in sending a letter urging U.S. Attorney General William Barr and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to drop their claims to the Pacific Gas & Electric settlement fund for California wildfire victims.
“Beyond claims within the settlement fund itself, we also insist that all Federal and State agencies do not seek reimbursement from the wildfire victims for any of their legitimate claims that result in any form of compensation,” the representatives wrote. “This compensation is not duplicative to the Federal and State assistance already provided. The threat of reimbursement severely demoralizes victims and is already causing complications with wildfire recovery.”
“Federal and State governments have a responsibility to work for the people, not the other way around,” Garamendi said in a statement. “Unlike my constituents, the State of California and the Federal Government routinely receive funding for disaster response and account for the projected costs of disasters in their respective budgets. It’s unconscionable to allow the government to reimburse these costs by raiding a settlement fund that’s intended for wildfires victims — many of whom lost everything. That’s why I joined my colleagues in supporting the ‘Preventing Disaster Revictimization Act’ to ensure that victims of California’s recently deadly wildfires receive the support and care they need to recover from an unimaginable hardship.”
The bill will now move on to the full House of Representatives.