Gara­mendi sup­ports bill to pro­tect com­pen­sa­tion for wild­fire vic­tims

Times-Herald (Vallejo) - - LOCAL NEWS - By Nick Ses­tanovich ns­es­tanovich@there­porter. com Con­tact re­porter Nick Ses­tanovich at (707) 5536835.

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.


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