Press Release

In Speech on Senate Floor, Welch Calls for Disaster Supplemental Funding for Vermont and States Impacted by Natural Disasters 

May 9, 2024

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Wednesday evening, Senator Peter Welch (D-Vt.) delivered remarks on the Senate Floor calling for Congress to pass long-term disaster relief funding for communities impacted by natural disasters. Senator Welch highlighted the importance of delivering flexible funds like Community Development Block Grants-Disaster Relief (CDBG-DR), which gives communities the flexibility needed to rebuild and recover, and help them to prepare for future disasters. 

“What is more important, more essential for the Senate than to acknowledge that all of us as Americans, there but for the grace of God goes our communities when a natural disaster occurs…The pain is still very present for those folks—your farm, your business, your home—and the challenges of getting through the bureaucracy are very complicated. And that’s what I learned with the folks in Barre,” said Senator Welch

“But the thing that is absolutely vital, absolutely vital, is the flexible funding that comes from the disaster relief fund…If we’re going to have an effective disaster relief program, yes, it starts with the federal declaration,” continued Senator Welch. “But what happens after the waters recede, after the FEMA emergency folks are gone, is that the hard work of actually rebuilding that house, repairing that business, that is left in the community. And if they don’t have that disaster relief funding and the flexibility that’s required to the very particular challenges in that community, then we haven’t completed the job.” 

Watch the Senator’s remarks here

Senator Welch has visited and met with municipal, state, and federal leaders across Vermont in the aftermath of the damaging floods in Vermont last summer to survey the impacts firsthand. Last month, Senator Welch joined Barre City leadership on a walking tour of Barre to discuss strategies for flood mitigation, recovery, and resiliency.   

Welch has championed efforts to address flood recovery in the Senate, including leading the Vermont and New Hampshire Congressional Delegations in sending a letter to USDA urging the agency address staffing shortages in the Rural Development Office as both states continue their flood recovery efforts. Senator Welch has also introduced legislation to protect Vermonters impacted by extreme weather and help communities increase climate resiliency, including the WEATHER Act, which makes crop insurance more responsive to farmers following natural disasters. The Senator delivered remarks on the Senate floor in the fall on the need to support Vermont small businesses and communities following the July floods, and urged Congress to support disaster aid for Vermont farmers impacted by natural disasters.   

Welch has also spoken at Senate Agriculture Committee hearings regarding bolstering conservation and climate resiliency funding and supporting farmers with more technical assistance in times of disaster. The Senator also delivered testimony at a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing urging Congress to advance an appropriations package that includes Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery funds, which are critical to helping communities recover from natural disasters like this summer’s catastrophic flooding.