H.R. 1678 re-establishes a three year statute of limitations on actions to recover Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grants provided to state or local governments following a declared disaster. This limitation does not apply in situations where there is evidence of fraud, waste, or abuse.
The Robert T. Stafford Emergency Relief and Disaster Assistance Act (Stafford Act) authorizes the President to issue declarations for incidents ranging from destructive, large-scale disasters to more routine, less damaging events. Under the Stafford Act, the costs of response and recovery efforts are usually split between the state and the federal government, provided that the federal share shall be at least 75 percent. The majority of assistance provided under the Stafford Act is paid out of FEMA's Disaster Relief Fund (DRF), which is a no-year account used to fund response activities and pay for ongoing recovery programs.
The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on May 3, 2017.
(Sec. 1) This bill amends the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act to prohibit any administrative action to recover any payment made to a state or local government for disaster or emergency assistance initiated in any forum (with exceptions for fraud) after three years following the transmission of the final expenditure report for project completion, as certified by the grantee (currently, after three years following the transmission of the final expenditure report for the disaster or emergency).
Such revised prohibition shall apply to any such payment provided on or after January 1, 2004. Any administrative action to recover such a payment that is pending on the date of enactment of this bill shall be terminated.
The bill makes the same report change with respect to the deadline: (1) for any dispute arising under such Act for which there shall be a presumption that accounting records were maintained that adequately identify the source and application of funds provided for financially assisted activities, and (2) by which the inability of the government to produce source documentation supporting expenditure reports shall not constitute evidence to rebut such presumption.