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H.R. 2548: Hazard Eligibility and Local Projects Act

Dec 17, 2019 at 1:56 p.m. ET. On Motion to Suspend the Rules and Pass, as Amended in the House.

This was a vote to pass H.R. 2548 in the House. This vote was taken under a House procedure called “suspension of the rules” which is typically used to pass non-controversial bills. Votes under suspension require a 2/3rds majority. A failed vote under suspension can be taken again.

Should a state or municipality have to wait for the federal government to approve their application for a post-recovery construction or infrastructure project before they can proceed?

Context

A state or locality applying for federal dollars for a construction or recovery project following a natural disaster must wait for an official ‘yes’ or ‘no’ from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) before they can begin construction or buy the needed land.

These replies are often slow to arrive, even when time is of the essence.

What the bill does

The Hazard Eligibility and Local Projects (HELP) Act is a bipartisan bill that would allow more post-recovery projects to go ahead before receiving federal approval, as long as the project “complies with all other eligibility requirements of the hazard mitigation assistance program.”

It was introduced in the House on May 7 as bill number H.R. 2548, by Rep. Lizzie Fletcher (D-TX7).

What supporters say

Supporters argue the bill would better help local areas make quick rebounds after events such as hurricanes, floods, and tornadoes.

“In Houston, our local agencies and officials tasked with flood mitigation and prevention have told me that this law is a real impediment to getting started on long-term recovery and mitigation projects,” Rep. Fletcher said in a press release. “Our community is ready to move forward, and… this common-sense change to the law [will] help our communities recover as quickly as possible.”

“After a storm like Hurricane Harvey, folks want to start picking up the pieces, repairing roads, infrastructure and homes as soon as possible,” cosponsor Rep. Pete Olson (R-TX22) also said. “No one should be forced to live in potentially unsafe conditions while they wait for recovery funds that can easily take months, if not years….The federal government should not be an obstacle if local funds are available to start construction on crucial projects.”

What opponents say

GovTrack Insider was unable to locate any explicit statements of opposition, but the Republicans who voted no were members of the House Freedom or House Liberty Caucuses, which tend to include deficit hawks.

The Congressional Budget Office estimated the bill would increase the deficit by $17 million over the next decade. That’s something, but an extremely small amount equal to the debt the country currently racks up approximately every six minutes.

Odds of passage

The bill passed the House on December 17, by a 409–7 vote. The seven opposing votes were from six Republicans and Republican-turned-independent Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI3).

It next goes to a potential Senate vote, where passage seems likely if a vote is held.

Totals

All Votes D R I
Yea 98%
 
 
 
409
223
 
186
 
0
 
Nay 2%
 
 
 
7
0
 
6
 
1
 
Not Voting
 
 
 
14
9
 
5
 
0
 

Passed. 2/3 Required. Source: house.gov.

Ideology Vote Chart

Key:
Democrat - Yea Republican - Yea Republican - Nay
Seat position based on our ideology score.

Cartogram Map

Each hexagon represents one congressional district. Solid hexes are Yea votes.

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Vote Details

Notes: The Speaker’s Vote? “Aye” or “Yea”?
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Statistically notable votes are the votes that are most surprising, or least predictable, given how other members of each voter’s party voted and other factors.

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Study Guide

How well do you understand this vote? Use this study guide to find out.

You can find answers to most of the questions below here on the vote page. For a guide to understanding the bill this vote was about, see here.

What was the procedure for this vote?

  1. What was this vote on?
  2. Not all votes are meant to pass legislation. In the Senate some votes are not about legislation at all, since the Senate must vote to confirm presidential nominations to certain federal positions.

    This vote is related to a bill. However, that doesn’t necessarily tell you what it is about. Congress makes many decisions in the process of passing legislation, such as on the procedures for debating the bill, whether to change the bill before voting on passage, and even whether to vote on passage at all.

    You can learn more about the various motions used in Congress at EveryCRSReport.com. If you aren’t sure what the House was voting on, try seeing if it’s on this list.

  3. What is the next step after this vote?
  4. Take a look at where this bill is in the legislative process. What might come next? Keep in mind what this specific vote was on, and the context of the bill. Will there be amendments? Will the other chamber of Congress vote on it, or let it die?

    For this question it may help to briefly examine the bill itself.

What is your analysis of this vote?

  1. What trends do you see in this vote?
  2. Members of Congress side together for many reasons beside being in the same political party, especially so for less prominent legislation or legislation specific to a certain region. What might have determined how the roll call came out in this case? Does it look like Members of Congress voted based on party, geography, or some other reason?

    One tool that will be helpful in answering this question is the cartogram at the top of the page. A cartogram is a stylized map of the United States that shows each district as an identical hexagon. This view allows you to see the how the representatives from each district voted arranged by their geography and colored by their political party. What trends can you see in the cartogram for this vote?

  3. How did your representative vote?
  4. There is one vote here that should be more important to you than all the others. These are the votes cast by your representative, which is meant to represent you and your community. Do you agree with how your representative voted? Why do you think they voted the way they did?

    If you don’t already know who your Members of Congress are you can find them by entering your address here.

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