House passes bill championed by Joe Biden to improve FEMA’s disaster response

WASHINGTON — The House passed the Build Back Better Act Tuesday, a bill championed by former Vice President Joe Biden.

Introduced in April by three California Democratic congressmen, the bill would make a number of changes to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s disaster response programs, including more transparency around how much money the agency has spent on a particular area and more rigorous evaluations of whether recovery programs are working.

Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., introduced the bill and all three California members co-sponsored it.

“This is a giant leap forward in the way Americans work with and help each other when disaster strikes,” Biden said in a statement after the bill passed, “just as it was 15 years ago when I stood here for the first time on the steps of the Capitol.”

The final vote was 356-69.

Rep. Clay Higgins, R-La., co-sponsored the measure but did not vote. Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minn., introduced the bill in the Senate.

The Build Back Better Act is one of several measures the former vice president has introduced during his son’s time in office to help hurricane victims.

President Donald Trump announced in July he is directing FEMA to assess whether current recovery programs are working after the storm season, which typically runs from June to November.

President George W. Bush established the agency in 1968 to oversee disaster response, respond to disasters and help communities rebuild.

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