Missouri Congressman Sam Graves says a bill he authored has been approved by the House of Representatives that waives the debt of someone who received assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency when a disaster victim has been mistakenly been awarded assistance in good faith due to the fault of the government.
The Preventing Disaster Revictimization Act (H.R. 5953) updates current law by requiring FEMA to waive the debt of someone who received FEMA assistance, in cases where no fraud has been committed, after the agency later determines it mistakenly granted the assistance. Under the current process, FEMA can come back weeks, months, or even years later to seek repayment of funds it awarded victims, even when the agency made the initial error.
Graves introduced the bill after a Holt County resident lost his family home to the 2019 flooding and was mistakenly provided over $12,000 in FEMA Individual Assistance money to help him get back on his feet, only to be told later he didn’t qualify and would have to pay it back.
The bill also ensures that FEMA reports to Congress on the number of mistakes it makes in individual assistance award determinations and the agency’s efforts to minimize similar errors in the future.