December 18, 2017 / 11:08 PM / 2 years ago

House plan would increase Trump's disaster aid request

A woman looks as her husband climbs down a ladder at a partially destroyed bridge, after Hurricane Maria hit the area in September, in Utuado, Puerto Rico November 9, 2017. REUTERS/Alvin Baez

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives unveiled on Monday an $81 billion aid package to deal with hurricanes and wildfires, far above President Donald Trump’s $44 billion request.

The legislation would help Puerto Rico and several states recover from devastating hurricanes and California and other Western states cope with wildfires.

It was unclear whether the latest natural-disaster aid plan would be rushed through the Republican-controlled Congress this week, before the start of a Christmas recess, or await congressional votes early next year.

The bill, introduced by House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen, includes $27.6 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency and $26.1 billion for community development block grants.

“We have a commitment to our fellow citizens that are in the midst of major rebuilding efforts in all areas, including Texas, Florida, California, Louisiana, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands,” Frelinghuysen, a New Jersey Republican, said in a statement.

Earlier this year, Congress approved two disaster aid packages totaling about $52 billion.

Trump’s $44 billion request submitted in mid-November was widely criticized by lawmakers as being insufficient.

About a third of Puerto Rico’s residents are still without power and hundreds remain in shelters three months after Hurricane Maria devastated the island.

In California, wildfires have burned more than 1 million acres (400,000 hectares) and destroyed thousands of homes.

Reporting by Richard Cowan and Eric Beech; Editing by James Dalgleish and Peter Cooney

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