Tennessean: Alexander gets $200M plus for flooding in bill

Posted on May 14, 2010

WASHINGTON — Sen. Lamar Alexander added more than $200 million in federal funding for flood relief in Tennessee to a war supplemental spending bill on Thursday.

The bill passed the Senate Appropriations Committee on a voice vote and now goes to the Senate floor, where it's expected to receive quick action.

Alexander, a member of the committee, joined the rest of the Tennessee delegation in asking President Barack Obama to include flood relief funding in the request he sent Congress for war spending and money for the Federal Emergency Management Agency .

But the administration said the $5.1 billion it requested in FEMA money would provide enough to help Tennessee.

Alexander convinced Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, and the panel's top-ranking Republican, Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi, to include the Tennessee funding — winning out over several other senators on the committee who had other special funding requests.

The Tennessee funding includes:

 $100 million in Community Development Block Grant funds that could be used in a variety of ways, including buying damaged properties and removing debris. This money would be shared with Rhode Island, which also had severe flooding.

 $49 million in Economic Development Administration funding through the Commerce Department to allow communities to go beyond restoring damaged property and finance projects to boost their economies.

 $72.5 million from the Department of Defense to repair the Naval Support Activity Mid-South facility in Millington, Tenn., where the Navy's personnel records are managed and which serves as the headquarters for recruiting.

The legislation also would lower from 25 percent to 10 percent the cost-sharing burden on local communities to qualify for FEMA funds to restore public buildings, roads and bridges.

And it includes $200 million for dredging the Mississippi River and harbors, including the harbor in Memphis.

Alexander told committee members he was concerned the Tennessee flooding disaster was being overshadowed by the massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

"I don't want Tennesseans to be penalized because we are cleaning up and working together, and not complaining and looting," Alexander said after the hearing.

The supplemental war spending measure would provide $33.5 billion in Department of Defense funding to cover the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

If the legislation passes the Senate, it still must be approved by the House.