As Hurricane Maria was ravaging the island of Puerto Rico, House Speaker Paul Ryan said during a Wednesday visit to Florida that he expects the Congress will vote on more disaster relief money next month, as federal agencies deal with the aftermath from three major hurricanes – Harvey, Irma and Maria.
“I’m sure that we’re going to do another, what we call a supplemental, sometime in October, once we have a full assessment of what is needed,” the Speaker said, after spending the day looking at storm damage across Florida.
Earlier this month, lawmakers approved $15.3 billion in extra aid for Hurricane Harvey; while that money was expected to allow for initial aid for victims of both Harvey and on Hurricane Irma relief, the expected damage from Hurricane Maria will mean an even bigger drain on federal emergency budget accounts.
The Speaker’s comments came after Ryan toured damaged areas in south Florida, which included a flight from the U.S. Coast Guard over the Florida Keys.
“From Marathon to Key West, it was really pretty extensive damage,” Ryan said, noting that he was familiar with the area from fishing trips he has made to Florida in the past.
“It was really astounding, the kind of damage that is done, not just to the ecosystem, but also to the homes and the structures,” the Speaker added.
Ryan was accompanied not only by local lawmakers from Florida, but also by the Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ), who would be in charge of any extra aid package in the House.
“We will work together to make sure that the necessary federal resources are in place for the rebuilding,” the Speaker said. “We will be there every step of the way.”
No estimates have been given on how much the Congress will have to pony up in terms of federal aid for Harvey, Irma and Maria; the Governor of Texas at one point said he thought his state might need over $100 billion from Uncle Sam, and the costs will certainly climb with damage to Puerto Rico from Maria.