BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The bill passed overnight by Congress to re-open the federal government offers relief to some Louisiana flood victims. However, some state leaders believe it could have gone further.
The bill partially fixes the "Duplication of Benefits" issue that has caused problems for thousands of 2016 flood victims. Currently, those who received or even just qualified for a Small Business Administration (SBA) loan could be blocked from accessing Restore Louisiana gr ant dollars.
The compromise bill passed in the wee hours of the morning eliminates the penalty for those who were offered but turned down the loan after the historic flood – about 3,800 families, according to the governor's office.
However, the penalty remains for those who took out a loan, meaning roughly 8,000 families will have their SBA loans counted against them when applying for Restore Louisiana, according to the governor's office.
Sen. John Kennedy said his Senate colleagues – including Senate leadership – did not support the full fix.
"They refused to do it for Texas, they refused to do it for Florida, Puerto Rico. They refused to do it for California, and Montana and Oregon with the wildfires," Kennedy said. "Their response was we didn't do it for them, we aren't doing it for Louisiana."
Gov. John Bel Edwards and Rep. Garret Graves are blasting the final bill, which was crafted in the Senate. Edwards called the bill "shameful."
The original House bill, crafted by Graves and other Louisiana House lawmakers, would have eliminated the penalty for both families who qualified for an SBA loan and those who actually took out a loan.
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