The federal government remains in partial shutdown with no sign of an agreement to re-open federal agencies and departments that lack funding authority from Congress. While the partial shutdown continues to drag on, Democrats in the House of Representatives are outlining their legislative agenda for the 116th Congress.
An emergency disaster supplemental package could be the first major legislative action to pass the House, aside from any potential appropriations agreements with Republicans. House Democrats released a draft of a $12.14 billion disaster aid package on January 4th that would provide relief for victims of recent wildfires, hurricanes, and other natural disasters. The package is tied to House Democrats’ budget proposal for Fiscal 2019 that would end the partial shutdown. The total package remains a “non-starter” for President Trump until Democrats agree to include dedicated funding for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. The future of the disaster supplemental is uncertain as long as it is tied to the politics of the partial shutdown, but it is a positive sign that House Democrats are willing to provide more emergency funds for Californians. The disaster aid package includes $720 million to repay depleted funds at the U.S. Forest Service. In addition, the package includes $480 million for the Emergency Forest Restoration Program (EFRP), a $280 million increase from Republican proposals. EFRP provides funding to assist private forest owners to repair their land from devastating wildfires.