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After recent disasters, the White House says FEMA needs more money

President Biden and first lady Jill Biden view damage caused by wildfires in Lahaina, Hawaii on August 21, 2023. The president is expected to travel to see hurricane damage Florida on Saturday.
Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images
President Biden and first lady Jill Biden view damage caused by wildfires in Lahaina, Hawaii on August 21, 2023. The president is expected to travel to see hurricane damage Florida on Saturday.

The White House is asking Congress for an additional $4 billion in emergency funding to help cover the costs of recent natural disasters in Hawaii, Florida and other parts of the country.

Last month, the White House told Congress the Federal Emergency Management Agency's disaster relief fund needed $12 billion. But on Friday, the White House said that wasn't going to be enough, and increased the request to a total of $16 billion, citing the fires on Maui and in Louisiana, flooding in Vermont and Hurricane Idalia slamming into Florida.

"We know that every American expects FEMA to be there if they are experiencing a disaster," Liz Sherwood-Randall, President Biden's homeland security adviser, told reporters on Thursday.

"We want to make sure that we can fund that support that these communities will need," she said.

Congress is slated to return from recess next week.

The request for FEMA funding is part of a larger emergency funding request, now totaling $44 billion — money the Biden administration says it needs above and beyond what Congress has already approved to spend to address critical challenges.

That request includes $24 billion for costs related to the war in Ukraine and $4 billion for costs related to migrants and the southern border.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Tamara Keith has been a White House correspondent for NPR since 2014 and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast, the top political news podcast in America. Keith has chronicled the Trump administration from day one, putting this unorthodox presidency in context for NPR listeners, from early morning tweets to executive orders and investigations. She covered the final two years of the Obama presidency, and during the 2016 presidential campaign she was assigned to cover Hillary Clinton. In 2018, Keith was elected to serve on the board of the White House Correspondents' Association.