Local leaders and federal lawmakers react to passing of disaster bill

BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - As of Monday, it was 236 days since Hurricane Michael hit and in the same amount of time the Panhandle has been without any federal disaster aid packages until Monday evening.

According to the Associated Press, the U.S. House passed $19 billion disaster bill, breaking conservative blockade and sending measure to Trump for expected signature. (MGN)

The $19 billion aid package will provide about a billion dollars to continue reconstruction at Tyndall Air Force Base, $2 billion for HUD community development, and $30 million for child care and development, among other things.

Although it passed the Senate about two weeks ago, it was met with resistance from three Republican congressmen who opposed a unanimous consent in the house.

Representative Neal Dunn says this bill should only be the beginning of relief efforts.

"We've also identified a lot of other needs related to the hurricane. What we weren't able to put in is the tax relief. Even the normal tax relief that follows disasters. Now that we've broken the log jam I think we can go back and get the kind of disaster tax relief that people have come to expect," Representative Dunn said.

Local leaders are also happy to be able to move forward and form more concrete financial plans for recovery efforts.

Bay County Commissioner Philip "Griff" Griffitts said, "We're obviously thankful for Congress to act 236 days later. It's taken them a little longer than we hoped but we're glad that they finally got it passed. It sounds like it's a down payment of sorts, it's not a fully funded bill but we're glad now to know that at least the rebuilding of Tyndall can start."

The bill itself is not solely aimed at the Panhandle as it looks to provide aid to those affected by hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, and fires. The bill now goes to President Trump's desk.

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