Graves says US Senate budget deal 'screws' La. flood victims; Kennedy’s office says not so fast

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Members of Louisiana's congressional delegation are in disagreement over whether a bill in the US Senate does enough to help flood victims, especially when it comes to the "Duplication of Benefits" issue.

Congressman Garret Graves says a budget deal in the US Senate "screws" Louisiana by leaving the "Duplication of Benefits" penalty in place. Sen. John Kennedy's office disputes that, with a spokesperson saying the plan in fact eliminates the penalty.

The penalty has been a headache for many families after the August 2016 flood. Currently, families who received Small Business Association (SBA) loans - or even just qualified for the dollars - may not be able to access grant money through the Restore Louisiana program.
A bill passed by the US House of Representatives in December would have done away with that penalty. Graves claims the upper chamber cut it from their version of the bill.

"Not only is it gone, but to add insult to injury, the Senate gave it to Texas and Florida and Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands and did not give it to us," Graves said in an interview.

However, a copy of the Senate plan provided by Kennedy's office includes a duplication of benefits provision. As written, the bill would make it so the penalty would no longer apply when a family is approved for an SBA loan but chooses not to take the money.

The provision dealing with duplication of benefits is on the bottom of page 93.

The original House version of the bill also included money that state leaders had hoped to use for the Comite Diversion Canal. The money is still there in the Senate compromise bill, but Graves said the rewrite will force the state to jump through additional hoops in order to use the cash for the canal.

The Senate is expected to vote on their plan later this week. The bill will likely face push back in the House when it returns there for a vote.

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