LaMalfa Bill Protecting Wildfire Victims’ Disaster Compensation Passes House

Jun 15, 2021
Press Release

(Washington, DC) – Congressman Doug LaMalfa (R-Richvale) issued the following statement after the House of Representatives passed the Preventing Disaster Revictimization Act. This bipartisan bill will prevent the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) from seeking reimbursement from Pacific Gas and Electric’s (PG&E) $13.5 billion settlement fund that was set aside for wildfire victims.

Rep. LaMalfa said, “The government has no business raiding the disaster compensation fund and obstructing the recovery efforts of fire victims. The Preventing Disaster Revictimization Act will ensure that no disaster victim will have their hard-fought compensation stripped from them by the federal government under the guise of reimbursing themselves on the backs of those who have suffered.”

House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Ranking Member Sam Graves (R-MO), who sponsored H.R. 539 with Rep. LaMalfa, said, “When victims apply for FEMA assistance in good faith, those individuals likely need to move quickly to use the assistance for eligible expenses, like home repairs, to speed up recovery and begin rebuilding their lives.  The Preventing Disaster Revictimization Act will ensure disaster victims trying to recover aren’t revictimized because of the federal government’s error.”

The bipartisan H.R. 539 will prevent FEMA from taking back disaster assistance funds resulting from a settlement claim or legal action, or that it mistakenly awarded to victims who applied for assistance in good faith and utilized that money to help rebuild their lives. The bill requires FEMA to waive the debt of disaster relief recipients in either of these cases. Under current law, FEMA can come back weeks, months, or even years later to seek repayment of funds it awarded victims if it detects an overpayment, or believes payments have become duplicative.