I don’t have to tell you that our country is facing a lot of problems right now. From inflation and rising prices to shortages and the supply chain crisis—we’re all living it.
It’s no surprise there’s little agreement to be found on solving these major problems in Washington. While some of us have urged the Administration to stop the out-of-control spending and mandates that are making this crisis worse, the majority in Washington is perfectly happy burying their head in the sand and pretending these problems are “transitory.”
That said, there’s still some things we can find common ground on—important things like expanding broadband internet access and fixing the problems at FEMA. I know some days it can seem like nothing is getting done in Washington, but I’ve been hard at work trying to find what little common ground there is left to get stuff done.
Earlier last month, the House overwhelmingly passed my bill to cut through red tape and let communities use existing Economic Development Act (EDA) funding to partner with private companies to complete last mile internet infrastructure projects. The Eliminating Barriers to Rural Internet Development Grant Eligibility (E-BRIDGE) Act is just common sense. Instead of creating a whole new government program, it just unlocks existing EDA funding to be used for something that is incredibly critical for economic development in our communities, internet expansion.
That’s not the only place I’ve been able to find some common ground. I’ve made progress in fixing some of the many problems at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as well. We all know how big of a nightmare dealing with FEMA was for many folks in the wake of the Flood of 2019. In talking to many of my colleagues in Washington, we quickly learned these weren’t just problems for flood victims in Missouri and the Midwest, but also for hurricane victims on the coasts and wildfire victims in the West.
This summer, the House unanimously passed my bill, the Preventing Disaster Revictimization Act, to stop FEMA from sending debt collectors after disaster victims when the agency makes a mistake. Instead of punishing disaster victims, it holds FEMA accountable when FEMA makes a mistake. This is a big step forward, but it’s not the only progress we’ve been making on this front.
As Republican Leader of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, I worked with Democrat Chairman Peter DeFazio to write two more FEMA reform bills and move those bills through our committee: the Small Project Efficient and Effective Disaster (SPEED) Recovery Act and the Resilient Assistance for Mitigation for Environmentally Resilient Infrastructure and Construction by Americans (AMERICA) Act. These bills would help cut down on the paperwork small communities have to go through to rebuild after disasters and help communities better protect themselves from future disasters.
These are all commonsense solutions to real problems that we’re facing today. They might not make the headline news, but they’re bound to have a real impact on our lives. I know it may seem like Republicans and Democrats are miles away on just about everything these days, but that doesn’t mean we can’t and shouldn’t work together to find common ground where we can.